12.31.2010 0

Obama Should Embrace Race and Gender Neutral Initiatives that Outlaw Government Sanctioned Discrimination

  • On: 01/20/2011 09:19:43
  • In: Uncategorized
  • By Kevin Mooney

    By an overwhelming margin, Arizona voters approved a ballot initiative in November that explicitly forbids government agencies from discriminating on the basis of race, sex and ethnicity. Despite the best efforts of far-left pressure groups to mislead the electorate and intimidate supporters, Proposition 107, also known as the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative (ACRI), prevailed with 60 percent of the vote.

    As Americans celebrated and recognized Martin Luther King Jr. for his commitment to equality and the ideals of the founding period on January 17th, now would be the opportune moment for President Obama to express support for ACRI and other race neutral initiatives that enjoy broad support. ACRI is part of a larger national effort that began with Proposition 209 in California back in 1996.

    In December, a federal judge rejected legal challenges to the law, which also passed by a substantial margin. Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent, who is now president of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), has been the galvanizing force behind the civil rights measures. Thus far, the initiatives have prevailed in Washington State, Michigan and Nebraska.

    The Arizona law amends the state constitution to read as follows: “This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”

    Unfortunately, President Obama’s administration continues to advance race and gender preferences as a matter of policy. Although he campaigned as a racial healer, open to a socio-economic form of affirmative action that would not exclude white Americans, Obama has thus far failed to follow through on public policy measures that would advance King’s vision; quite the opposite in fact. He also on record as opposing Connerly’s initiatives.

    Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a scholar with the Hudson Institute, has identified some of the key provisions that open the way to preferential policies.

    Government agencies and private contractors must now incorporate racial and gender preferences into their employment practices under Section 324 of the Dodd-Frank finance bill. This key provision calls for the creation of at least 20 new Offices of Minority and Women inclusion. The healthcare bill also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award preferences to those with “underrepresented backgrounds.”

    “Section 324’s provisions are broad and vague and are certain to increase inefficiency in federal agencies,” Furchtgott-Roth has said. “To comply, federal agencies are likely to find it easier to employ and contract with less-qualified women and minorities, merely in order to avoid regulatory trouble. This would in turn decrease the agencies’ efficiency, productivity and output, while increasing their costs.”

    There is no escaping the conflict between the discriminatory language folded away into the legislation and the Obama Administration’s rhetorical opposition to racial profiling. In a joint White House news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon last May, Obama characterized Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, SB 1070, as a “misdirected expression of frustration” that would subject law abiding individuals to unfair racially motivated scrutiny.

    But it would seem that Obama Administration officials must now “profile” on the basis of race and ethnicity to enforce the new legislation. By contrast, the same Arizona state lawmakers, who have been on the receiving end of White House criticism, successfully advanced a constitutional amendment that explicitly bans government sanctioned discrimination.

    Obama should carefully consider the remarks of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who has argued against the use of set asides and preferences in his written remarks. Discriminatory practices cannot be resolved by transferring them from one group to another, he has observed. The answer, instead, is to constrain the government from pursuing policies that violate the principle of equality.

    With state lawmakers in Utah now giving consideration to their own ballot initiative, Obama should reverse course and reaffirm the colorblind policies Dr. King enunciated so forcefully.

    Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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