Posted on November 5, 2020

Measure to Restore Affirmative Action in California Fails

Christine Mai-Duc, Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2020

California voters have rejected a measure that would have allowed affirmative action in public employment, contracting and university admissions 24 years after it was initially banned.

As of Wednesday morning local time, results showed 56% of Californians voted against Proposition 16 and 44% in favor, according to the Associated Press.

The result of the affirmative-action measure was a blow to proponents who have long wanted to remove California from the list of nine states that forbid affirmative action. They said it is necessary to increase enrollment of Black and Latino students in the state’s higher-education system, which is below their share of the state’s public high school graduates.

The measure sought to repeal Proposition 209, passed by voters in 1996, which prohibited the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin by state and local government agencies and public universities.

{snip} The state legislature narrowly passed a bill to place the question on the ballot and the Yes on 16 campaign drew support from Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and a cadre of elected officials, public university leaders and corporations.

Backers had hoped shifts in California’s demographics and politics—the state is now majority nonwhite and no Republican has been elected to statewide office since 2006—would boost its chances of passage.

All together, supporters raised more than $31 million, most of it from wealthy individuals including Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, Patricia Quillin, wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and Quinn Delaney, a former civil rights attorney who gave $7.9 million.