California governor vetoes affirmative action bill

[JURIST] California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] Saturday vetoed [text, PDF] a bill [SB 185, PDF] that would have allowed public colleges and universities to consider demographic factors such as race during the admissions process. The bill, introduced by Senator Ed Hernandez [official website], would have effectively overturned [Daily Californian report] ballot measure Proposition 209 [text], which banned the use of affirmative action for state hiring, contracting, or university admission. The Governor said in his veto message to the Senate that although he agreed with the purpose [statement, PDF] of the bill, it is the role of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] to decide the boundaries of Proposition 209:

I wholeheartedly agree with the goal of this legislation.... But while I agree with this legislation, I must return the bill without my signature. Our constitutional system of separation of powers requires that the courts -- not the Legislature -- determine the limits of Proposition 209.... Signing this bill is unlikely to impact how Proposition 209 is ultimately interpreted by the courts; it will just encourage the 209 advocates to file more costly and confusing lawsuits.
The Governor previously contested [opinion letter, PDF; JURIST report] Proposition 209 in 2009. The Berkeley College Republicans at the University of California Berkeley [academic website] released a statement praising [press release] the Governor's veto. The veto comes on the same day Governor Brown signed into law a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to receive financial aid [JURIST report] for college.

Affirmative action continues to be a controversial issue. Last month, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] agreed to a rehearing en banc [JURIST report] to determine the constitutionality of an amendment to the Michigan Constitution banning affirmative action. In January, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] unanimously ruled to uphold the affirmative action [JURIST report] policy of considering race in student admissions at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) [academic website]. In August of 2010, the Supreme Court of California [official website] held that a state ban on preferential hiring practices for minorities and women does not violate [JURIST report] the federal Constitution [text]. In November 2008, Colorado voters narrowly rejected [JURIST report] a ballot measure [Amendment 46 text and materials] to prohibit governmental agencies from discriminating or granting preferences on the basis of race and sex. While, a nearly identical measure passed [JURIST report] in Nebraska.

 

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