Inside the Ballot: Proposition 16

Inside California Politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Inside California Politics) — This November, voters in California will decide whether to restore affirmative action in the state.

If voters approve Proposition 16, government decision-making policies will consider race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Public agencies and programs can hire or contract and schools can admit based on those characteristics.

“There would be oversight from the state of California to ensure that equal opportunity thrives here in California. We know that racial quotas have been banned by the Supreme Court for over 30 years,” Nicole Derse, of the Yes on 16 campaign, said. “There is no way that there would be racial quotas within Prop 16. It merely opens up the playing field and allows for women and people of color to compete for contracts, for admissions and promotions.”

But opponents say this could legalize discrimination, noting Proposition 16 reverses an initiative from the ’90s called Proposition 209, which banned preferential treatment based on race and sex.

“If the state of California wants to give a little leg up to small businesses that just got started, they can do that. But they just can’t pick the winners and losers based on race, sex or ethnicity,” University of San Diego Law Professor Gail Heriot said.

California is one of nine states that currently bans affirmative action.

Analysts say if passed, Proposition 16 would have no direct financial effects to local and state governments.

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