The Tennessee bill to ban race or sex preferences in government hiring, which we previously reported on here, is dead. Readers will recall that the bill was amended at last minute to prohibit race preferences granted solely on race or sex. Perhaps the bill’s defeat was a blessing in disguise, as the amendment robbed the text of any meaning. Preferences are never granted solely on that basis. And it is any consideration of race or sex, not just sole consideration, that the Constitution prohibits.
The Senate sponsor of the bill, Jim Summerville, opposed the change in language, and vows to bring the bill back next session. Summerville had previously proposed a bill to eliminate race and sex preferences in higher education, but that bill shared a similar fate.
Meanwhile, we await oral argument in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action—which next year will determine the constitutionality of state bans on race-based affirmative action.