Ballot Initiative Doesn't Prohibit Affirmative Action

Ballot Initiative Doesn't Prohibit Affirmative Action

In the article "Dole Hedges Stand on Effort to Curb Affirmative Action," June 14, the author refers to the California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) as "an initiative measure against affirmative-action programs." This is seriously misleading. CCRI will not prohibit affirmative action in its original sense. The words "affirmative action" do not appear in its text. CCRI prohibits discrimination and its corollary preferences. Specifically, the measure states: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin...."

The distinction is important. To many, "affirmative action" means not only preferences, but also a wide variety of benign, nondiscriminatory programs. For example, nondiscriminatory recruitment programs designed to ensure that all people, regardless of race, sex, or color, are made aware of the opportunities available to them and are treated with equal dignity and respect are often classified as "affirmative action." Yet such programs, so long as they are nondiscriminatory, will not be prohibited or discouraged by CCRI.

It is, therefore, a mistake to say CCRI is an anti-affirmative action measure; it is an antidiscrimination, antipreference measure.

Gail Heriot

Los Angeles

Co-Chair, CCRI Campaign

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