On Friday, October 12, 2007 the Chronicle of Higher Education published a report by writer Peter Schmidt which essentially predicts that in November 2008 five more states will ban racial quotas and preferences as part of Ward Connerly’s “Super Tuesday for Equality” campaign.
Below are selected excerpts of Mr. Schmidt’s report.
CHRONICLE HEADLINE: 5 More States May Curb Use of Race in Hiring and Admissions
By PETER SCHMIDT
“The prominent affirmative-action critic Ward Connerly appears well on his way to getting up to five states to vote in November 2008 on ballot measures banning the use of racial, ethnic, and gender preferences by public colleges and other state and local agencies.
“And, according to political analysts who monitor the states that are the targets of Mr. Connerly’s planned “Super Tuesday” on affirmative action — Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma — he stands a very good chance of getting measures passed in all of them.
“… [E]ach of the five states has witnessed a recent backlash against illegal immigration — a sentiment that reflects, and has worsened, tensions between their white and Hispanic populations.
“[The anti-preference campaign has] already made some effort to tie the issues of affirmative action and immigration together by raising the prospect of illegal immigrants receiving amnesty and then being favored over American citizens in the competition for jobs and college slots.
“Political analysts say the immigration debate will only help Mr. Connerly’s cause.
” ‘I have seen Republican message testing that shows that the illegal-alien issue can move voters,’ says Ronald Keith Gaddie, a professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma and president of the Southwestern Political Science Association. In Oklahoma, Mr. Gaddie says, the illegal-immigration issue ‘is fertile ground for exploiting’ because the state’s predominantly Protestant non-Hispanic white population and its predominantly Catholic and rapidly growing Hispanic population are clashing ‘across the board — on language, on culture, and on religion.’
“Mr. Connerly says he is optimistic that ‘a critical mass of five states’ will pass his group’s proposed ballot initiatives, sending ‘a message that could not be interpreted in any other way except to say that the American people do not want their government engaged in granting preferential treatment on the basis of race or gender or ethnicity.’
“Like the three state referenda that have already been passed, the latest ballot measures cover public employment, public education, and public contracting, and call for agencies of the affected states to be barred from discriminating or granting preferential treatment in those areas based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
“The measures threaten to complicate public colleges’ efforts to diversify their faculties, administrations, and student bodies.
“Of the five states it has chosen as targets, the American Civil Rights Coalition has received the go-ahead to begin gathering petition signatures in three: Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Its signature-gathering efforts in Oklahoma are already well under way.
“The group has begun its efforts in Nebraska quietly — without the press releases and news conferences that marked the beginning of its other campaigns …
“The effort to get a measure on the ballot in Missouri has been sidetracked by two separate legal battles over petition language, with both cases now being handled in tandem by the same state court judge.
“In one of the lawsuits, the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, which is sponsoring the measure, is challenging the summary that Missouri’s secretary of state and attorney general have placed at the top of the petitions, arguing that the wording distorts the proposal’s intent and effects in a way that will bias voters against it.
“The other lawsuit, filed by opponents of the measure, attacks the certified petition language on several fronts, arguing that it does not mention that the state will still be allowed to discriminate based on religion, disability, age, or veteran status; that it fails to properly gauge the measure’s likely financial cost to the state; and that it violates a requirement under the state’s Constitution that such amendments deal with only one subject.
“The American Civil Rights Institute and its state campaign affiliates also have a winning record in the many court battles that have been fought over their ballot measures. Just last month they persuaded the Colorado Supreme Court to narrowly uphold the language of the proposed Colorado Civil Rights Initiative in the face of opposition from affirmative-action supporters, including the Colorado Women’s Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, who argued that the measure violated a constitutional requirement that such referenda deal with only one subject.
“Mr. Connerly says that, mainly for financial reasons, he selected his five targets for 2008 based primarily on the ease with which he could get measures on their ballots and fend off legal challenges.
“The three states that have already passed such bans, California, Michigan, and Washington, together account for about 17.7 percent of the nation’s population. If the five states being eyed by Mr. Connerly pass such measures, the share of the U.S. population living in states with such bans will rise to just over 25 percent.
“[Connerly] says that he has ‘not decided what influence illegal immigration will have’ on his campaigns, but that he perceives some convergence of the debates over illegal immigration and affirmative action in the minds of many Arizona voters. ‘People see it as part of the same regime, if you will,’ he says. ‘As it happens, many of those who defend granting rights to illegal immigrants happen to be, coincidentally, those who support race-based affirmative action.’
[Note: The effect that illegal immigrants may have on racial quotas is based on simple arithmetic. If the 12 million illegal immigrants (largely Hispanic) who are currently in the U.S. are granted amnesty then there is the distinct danger that affirmative action laws currently on the books would demand that they be hired by all employers in proportion to their numbers in the general U.S. population. The “amnestied” illegals thus would represent an enormous new class of beneficiaries of racial quotas. Tim Fay, Editor]
“If the debate over the measure in Colorado ‘comes down to race, given the current climate of anti-immigration, it probably has a good chance of winning,’ says Michael Kanner, an instructor in political science at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“The Colorado campaign is being led within the state by Valery Pech Orr, who was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1995 decision Adarand Constructors v. Pena, which limited the consideration of race in federal contracting. Linda Chavez, the prominent conservative pundit who established the Center for Equal Opportunity, a leading advocacy group opposing affirmative-action preferences, is also expected to play a prominent role in the campaign there.
“Because Denver will be the host city for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the presence of such a measure on the ballot in Colorado could give the affirmative-action issue a higher profile in the presidential campaigns.
“Mr. Gaddie, of the University of Oklahoma, predicts that — based on last fall’s election results from Michigan, where such a ballot measure got 58 percent of the vote — a similar proposal would win about 63 or 64 percent of the vote in Oklahoma. ‘The voters here seem to line up for conservative causes,’ Mr. Gaddie said, ‘and conservatives seem to know how to come in here and mobilize that vote.’