Did the Sky Really Fall? Ten Years after California's Proposition 209

Program for Judicial Awareness Working Paper No. 05-006

39 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2005

Date Written: August 11, 2005


Discrimination and preferential treatment based on immutable characteristics, such as race and sex, are hotly contested issues in the courts and among the general public. By adopting Proposition 209, California voters amended the California State Constitution, the organic law that determines the state's governing principles, to eliminate race and sex based discrimination and preferential treatment. California's approach is effective at eliminating discrimination and preferential treatment in public contracting, education, and employment without negatively impacting the position of women and minorities. It is unnecessary for governmental entities to discriminate or grant preferential treatment as minorities and women are able to maintain their levels of employment, education, and contracting without being granted preferential treatment. Comparing the pre- and post-Proposition 209 statistics by race and gender demonstrates that women and minorities have not lost any ground in employment, education, or public contracting as a result of Proposition 209's prohibition of discrimination and preferential treatment. Although the state of Washington has successfully passed similar legislation, other states have not yet been as successful. If discrimination and preferential treatment based on race and sex are to be eliminated, it is important for citizens and states to use California's Proposition 209 as a model.

Keywords: California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209, discrimination, preferential treatment

JEL Classification: J71, J78

Suggested Citation

Hadley, Eryn, Did the Sky Really Fall? Ten Years after California's Proposition 209 (August 11, 2005). Program for Judicial Awareness Working Paper No. 05-006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=782867 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.782867

Eryn Hadley (Contact Author)

Pacific Legal Foundation ( email )

Sacramento, CA 95834
United States
(530) 320-8075 (Phone)

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