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Affitmative Action Prop 209 Essay, Research Paper

AFFIRMATIVE ACTIONIn the November elections of 1996, California voters passed proposition 209. This ballot measure, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, is currently being held up in appeals courts and is expected to be heard by the United States Supreme Court in the near future. According to the California Voter Information Guide Ballot Pamphlet Proposition 209 is:The measure prohibits the state, local governments, districts, public universities, colleges, and schools, and other government instrumentality from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to any individual or group in public employment, public education, or public contracting on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Does not prohibit reasonably necessary, bona fide qualifications based on sex and actions necessary for receipt of federal funds. Mandates enforcement to extent permitted by federal law. Requires uniform remedies for violations. Provides for severability of provisions if invalid. This measure, and other attempts to demolish affirmative action programs, are based on two basic premises, both of which are ostensibly false. One belief is that affirmative action is no longer needed; the other is that they are in all forms, unfair. While it is true there may be an abundance of useless affirmative action programs throughout the nation, and many programs’ structures and/or purposes may be flawed, the foundations intention attached to these programs is still very much necessary in our society. The debate over proposition 209 has become more emotional than intellectual, and has generated more tension than shed light on the issue. Participants in the debate have over examined the moral and ethical issues that affirmative action raises while forgetting to examine the system that has created the need for them. According to Ward Connerly, Glynn Custred and Tom Wood; all of whom authored CCRI and are responsible for getting it on the ballot, affirmative action policies aimed at helping minorities and women often violate the 14th amendment of the Constitution and civil rights laws. Their argument is based on the notion that these programs will ruin what is now a level playing field, and could give preferential treatment to undeserving minorities because of their skin color. However, any elementary look at the history of this country should infer a contradiction to the idea of a level playing field. There are also those who argue that affirmative action programs such as the ones proposition 209 would eliminate, create stigmas. I would argue that minorities have always been questioned and stigmatized in this country, being labeled a minority, alone carries with it a slanderous stigma. The idea that prop. 209 would introduce any stigmas that did not already exist is ridiculous.

Another extremist view is that affirmative action is why a lot of white men are out of work, and that unqualified minorities are replacing them in America’s corporate sector and at colleges and universities. This is a fallacy that, unfortunately, many white men are believing, just as there are many black men who believe absolutely that their color is the only reason that they are out of work. The reason for the trend of corporate downsizing is a direct result of technological advances and computers playing a more integral role in companies’ output. As for the economic ramifications involved, many proponents of proposition 209 contend that there is a dire need to stop these programs because of the money being spent on them. However, since the state budget has set-asides for educational purposes and programs–at least for the educational portion of proposition 209–if these programs are cut, the money saved will only be used to start other educational projects of which I would argue cannot be of more assistance than affirmative action. Furthermore, on contracting side of the measure, the variable would be who wins a bid acceptance. Either way it goes, state or federal funding would not play into it. Historically speaking, there are no direct precedents from the Supreme Court of the United States. Bakke v. Board of Regents of the University of California dealt with the issue of quotas in university admissions, calling them wrong. However, there was no mention in any of the opinions regarding the issue of constitutionality, or more generally, affirmative action. Many issues of strong debate have arose from the passing of proposition 209 with a fifty-four to forty-six percentage points and from the numerous legal challenges that have followed. It looks like any way you can spin the issue, everyone will still not be content with the results. It is very likely that the Supreme Court of the United States will have a chance to fumble with the issue, and they will have the last say. Bibliography California, 15 September 1998 from the World Wide Web: http://www.yahoo.com/Regional/U_S_States/California/Government/Politics/Elections/1996/Ballot_Measures/Propostion_209_California_Civil_Rights_Initiative/ California, 17 September 1998 from the World Wide Web: http://vote96.ss.ca.gov/Vote96/html/BP/209.htm California, 21 September 1998 from the World Wide Web: http://vote96.ss.ca.gov/Vote96/html/BP/209anaylsis.htm The Associated Press, (1996, October 27). Prop 209 measure divides Californians. USA TODAY.

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