California Supreme court looks at business affirmative action.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, declaring that they did not want to see racial or gender preferences used in public contracts, employment and education.  Turns out that, in a wonderful anti-Democratic display, San Francisco has been ignoring that voter mandate, and the California Supreme Court is now going to decide whether a City can take the law into its own hands:

The California Supreme Court took up San Francisco’s program of preferential treatment for companies owned by minorities and women Wednesday, agreeing to decide whether the city can override a voter-approved ban on granting advantages to contractors based on their sex or race.

In taking its first affirmative action case in almost seven years, the court said it would hear appeals by two companies that accuse the city of violating Proposition 209, the 1996 state initiative that outlawed preferences in public contracts, employment and education.


The court should “resolve the issue of cities disregarding and flouting the commands of Proposition 209,” said John Findley, a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney.


What’s at stake, countered Deputy City Attorney Sherri Sokeland-Kaiser, is “economic equity for minority- and women-owned businesses.”

San Francisco has had programs to increase minorities’ and women’s share of city contracts since 1984 and has faced continual legal challenges from white contractors. The current ordinance, passed in 2003, gives minority- and female-owned companies a 10 percent advantage in competitive bids.

It also requires contractors to hire a certain percentage of subcontracting firms that are not owned by white men, or to show that they have made a good-faith effort to meet those goals.

The city doesn’t argue that its program complies with Prop. 209. A narrower ordinance in San Jose, which contained no bidding preferences but sought to recruit firms owned by minorities and women for city contracts, was unanimously struck down by the court in November 2000.

In this case, however, San Francisco’s lawyers contend that the state initiative is trumped by the U.S. Constitution’s ban on intentional discrimination. The city also argues that an international treaty ratified by the United States in 1992 entitles state and local agencies to use affirmative action to counteract discrimination.

Did you catch the doublespeak in that last paragraph?  As I read it, the City is claiming that the only way not to violate the Constitutional ban on intentional discrimination is to — yes, wait for it — discriminate.  This world view works, of course, if you believe that white men can never be the victim of discrimination (an idea that arises in the same universe that allows you to believe that minorities, all evidence to the contrary, can never be racists).

As it is, there’s another presumption underlying all this, which is the manifeste belief that female or minority owned firms will never be able to compete with white owned firms unless they’re given a handicap.  Does this mean that preference advocates are saying that whites are superior, and the only way minorities and females can compete is with help?  I find that a most disturbing thought, indeed, and one I would vigorously challenge.  Walter Williams would too.


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