In 1996, voters in California made it illegal to consider race in deciding who is admitted to state colleges and universities by approving Proposition 209. But there is a proposed constitutional amendment, ACA 5, that wants to restore affirmative action (“Ward Connerly Rides Again,” The Wall Street Journal, June 2).
Today’s opponents of restoring affirmative action are primarily Asians, who would be the ones disproportionately penalized. The truth is that they would overwhelmingly constitute the student body at colleges and universities if objective criteria were the sole basis for admission. But it isn’t.
SCOTUS has sent confusing messages on the subject of racial discrimination in academia. On one hand, the high court has said that “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.” Yet it has also said that diversity is a worthy goal, which has allowed schools to artificially cap the number of Asians admitted. The Ivies once did the same thing with Jewish applicants. Apparently, racial preferences refuse to die.
It’s hard to predict the outcome, but sentiment in California has changed because the state is now more diverse, with people of color now the majority. As a result, voters may decide to restore affirmative action. If they do, they will pit ethnic groups against each other, further exacerbating relationships going forward.
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