What about Proposition 209?

The announcement by California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown that he can oppose voter-approved initiatives if he feels that they take away fundamental rights raises the question of why no California attorney general in the last 10 years has taken action to strike down Proposition 209.
That was the 1996 initiative that banned affirmative action in state education, employment and contracting. The effects have been widespread.
One study showed that practically all of the black-owned businesses with state contracts in 1996 have gone out of business.
The number of black nursery school students has dropped 40 percent; the number of black elementary and secondary students has dropped a third and there are thousands fewer black students in state universities.
In fact, more than 450,000 blacks have left the state in the past ten years, more than left Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
Brown should know about that first hand. During most of that period, he was mayor of Oakland, which has lost 25 percent of its black population.
Voters defeated an initiative in 1946 to ban discrimination in accommodations, employment and housing, but the measure was finally passed by the legislature in 1959.
California’s real estate lobby funded an initiative to overturn the Rumford Fair Housing Act in 1964. Both the U.S. government cut housing funding to the state, and the state Supreme Court struck down the initiative.
So we’ve been waiting for either Brown or his predecessor, both Democrats, to use those legal precedents to overturn Prop. 209.
But they have not had the political stomach to take on this demonstrably discriminatory move, giving its supporters the momentum to spread to other states.
Arizona’s authorities had more backbone, issuing a ruling that a Prop. 209 clone could not go on the 2008 ballot.
If Brown wants to stand up for civil rights, Proposition 209 should be the first item on his agenda.

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