Activists ask Ninth Circuit to reverse itself on Proposition 209

April 17, 2012 | By RALPH KASARDA

After being tossed out of court earlier this month, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Immigrant Rights and Integration and to Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN) yesterday asked the Ninth Circuit to reverse itself and invalidate Proposition 209.  Proposition 209 (Article 1, Section 31 of the California Constitution), the voter-enacted provision from 1996, prohibits discrimination and preferences by race or sex in public education, contracting, and employment.

Earlier this month, in the case called Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Brown, a Ninth Circuit panel of three judges affirmed a district court decision that threw out BAMN’s 2010 challenge to Proposition 209.  BAMN petitioned the Ninth Circuit for a rehearing.  BAMN’s Petition is here.

BAMN claims Proposition 209 violates the Equal Protection Clause even though every state and federal appellate court that has considered Proposition 209’s constitutionality has rejected challenges to it.  For instance, in 1997, the Ninth Circuit held the voter initiative was constitutional in all respects in a case called Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson.   BAMN’s ongoing challenge is an attempt to revive old, discredited arguments from 15 years ago.

Although Governor Brown is a named defendant in his official capacity, he has refused to defend this equal protection provision of the California Constitution and even filed a brief against it.  Governor Brown and BAMN are on the wrong side of the law.  In the case called Hi-Voltage Wire Works, Inc. v. City of San Jose, the California Supreme Court enforced Proposition 209 and reiterated that government “[d]iscrimination on the basis of race is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, inherently wrong, and destructive of democratic society.”  In 2010, the California Supreme Court rejected an equal protection challenge to Proposition 209 in Coral Construction v. City and County of San Francisco.

Representing Ward Connerly (the lead proponent of Proposition 209 when it was on the ballot in 1996) and the American Civil Rights Foundation, PLF attorneys will continue to defend Proposition 209’s guarantee of equal opportunity.  California voters have every right to prohibit their government from color-coding people and playing favorites based on a person’s skin color.