April 25, 2013

Contracting preferences, the 49ers, and Proposition 209

By Joshua P. Thompson Senior Attorney

This morning we learned that some “civil rights groups,” — i.e. groups that think skin color should factor into government decision making — have complained to the City of Santa Clara, the NFL, and, the San Francisco 49ers, that there are too few minority-owned contractors doing work on the 49ers new stadium.   To be clear, the “civil rights groups” have alleged no actual discrimination. They have found no action by the City of Santa Clara, the 49ers, or the NFL that discriminated against minority-owned contractors. Instead they simply looked at the contractors who successfully won the bids, and said, “AHA! You must be discriminating!”

Imagine for a second that these “civil rights groups” used their same logic with the NFL directly.  NFL players are 67% black, 31% white, 1% Hispanic, and 2% Asian.  AHA! The NFL must be discriminating against whites, Hispanics, and Asians!  After all the United States as a whole is 12.6% black, 63.7% non-Hispanic white, 16.4% Hispanic, and 4.8% Asian.

Of course, there is no indication that the NFL is discriminating against those three racial groups, and if these “civil rights groups” made such a ridiculous allegation, no one would take them seriously.  But the same is true with their ridiculous allegations about the 49ers new stadium.  Absent any evidence that Santa Clara, the 49ers, or the NFL actually discriminated against a contractor, pointing to the numbers and shouting, “AHA!” proves nothing.   Instead, what these “civil rights groups” actually want is for the government to start discriminating.   They want the government to give an advantage to contractors of certain “preferred” skin colors.

Thankfully, Santa Clara followed Proposition 209 and refused to discriminate against contractors on the basis of race.  But it’s high time we start calling out these “civil rights groups” for their ridiculous accusations.

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