I support Prop 16. The time is ripe to repeal Prop 209 and its harmful legacy in California.
As a local resident, I am disheartened to see so much vocal opposition in the community. However, I also write as a current law student in order to educate and disprove the flawed misconception that anything pro-affirmative action, like Prop 16, is always unconstitutional.
The U.S. Constitution allows the government and public institutions to use affirmative action policies to ensure equal opportunity to higher education and employment. I will focus on higher education.
In Supreme Court cases like Grutter v. Bollinger and the more recent Fisher v. University of Texas, the court recognized that universities have a compelling interest in maintaining diversity. Therefore, this is one reason affirmative action policies are constitutionally permissible.
The court also recognized that these policies may be necessary to address past systematic discrimination. Our constitution allows it so long as they do not use racial quotas. Schools must still evaluate applicants holistically.
What does this all mean? In the first place, affirmative action does not need to use quotas or give extra points to someone if they are a minority. If a policy does, then it is unconstitutional.
And that is why we cannot make quick assumptions that any and all affirmative action is unconstitutional. It makes no sense to decry policies, that have yet to exist, as harmful.
Ever since Prop 209 banned affirmative action, underrepresented group enrollment at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses of the University of California dropped more than 60 percent, and systemwide underrepresented group enrollment fell at least 12 percent.
Here is a thought. If voters’ intuition were right back in 1996, then we should have not seen any drastic changes over the past 20 years. But that is not what happened.
I can anticipate the response: “but what if that just showed merit was never earned in the first place?”
Given the Varsity Blue scandals and an audit that recently revealed UC improperly admitted 64 students, the so-called meritocracy defense rings hollow.
It is time to restore affirmative action in California to remedy past harm. Vote yes on Prop 16.