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California Assembly Passes Constitutional Amendment to Allow Race-Based Programs

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California Assembly Passes Constitutional Amendment to Allow Race-Based Programs

Students hoping for a repeal of California's Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action, hold signs outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

9/29/2023

Updated: 9/29/2023

An amendment to California’s Constitution that would allow the governor to approve funding for programs targeting specific ethnic groups, genders, or sexual orientations passed the Assembly this month and will next be heard in the Senate.
If approved there by a two-thirds majority, as was the case in the Assembly, the issue will be placed on the 2024 ballot for voters to decide.
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 7, authored by Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Perris), is intended to address “disparities in business contracting, education, housing, wealth, employment, and healthcare, which are deeply embedded in laws, policies, and institutions that perpetuate racial inequalities,” the bill’s author said in a statement after its passage on Sept. 12.
“Yesterday, we took a significant step toward addressing systemic disparities. ACA 7 aims to create positive change and improve outcomes for those disproportionately affected by systemic racism and discrimination,” Mr. Jackson said.
The amendment would allow the governor to approve funding research-based programs that are tailored to support specific groups by increasing life expectancy, improving educational outcomes, or lifting people out of poverty, according to the text.
The existing Constitution, which was amended by the voter-approved Proposition 209 in 1996, prohibits the state from providing funds or special attention to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
Students hoping for a repeal of California's Proposition 209 hold signs outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Students hoping for a repeal of California's Proposition 209 hold signs outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The author said the prior amendment had failed to accommodate the current social landscape, saying, “Proposition 209 severely limits the state’s ability to address systemic inequalities with proven best practices, further exacerbating disparities in public employment, public education, and public contracting.”
The most recent attempt to amend Prop. 209 and allow affirmative action occurred in 2020, when the Legislature voted to place Proposition 16 on the ballot. The effort was rejected by California voters 57 percent to 43 percent.
“ACA 7 will give us the tools to close opportunity gaps ... and increase access to health and educational services for all members of the state,” the California Teachers Association, a union representing over 310,000 educators throughout the state, said in a statement prior to the bill passing in the Assembly.
However, those opposed have said that having such a green light in the Constitution to discriminate, even in a limited way, would harm the equal rights of Californians.
The California State flag on Aug. 25, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The California State flag on Aug. 25, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“Advocating for race/sex-based preferences distorts the principle of equal opportunity into an illiberal, social-engineering tool of equal outcome,” Californians for Equal Rights, a California-based non-profit, said in a statement before the Assembly vote.
The group argued that there should not be a focus on “tribal divisions and political favoritism,” and all should be helped regardless of race or gender.
“We should also make sure that every individual has equal access to public resources, and that our government provide institutional support that encourages American virtues of hard-work, initiative, self-discipline and individual merit,” the statement reads.
The bill is part of Mr. Jackson’s “anti-racism bill package” which also includes a bill requiring antiracism audits in government agencies, which failed in committee and is dead for this year; one that prohibits local schools from banning curriculum without state approval, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom; and another that targets hate crimes, which is on Mr. Newsom’s desk awaiting approval.
Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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