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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Equal Opportunity

Equal opportunity means taking positive steps to end discrimination, to prevent its recurrence, and to create new opportunities that were previously denied qualified minorities and women. Americans for a Fair Chance (AFC) was founded on the belief that the measurable gains accomplished by equal opportunity initiatives contribute to the prosperity and health of our families and communities.

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Utah Legislature Rejects Bid to Put Anti-Equal Opportunity Measure on 2010 Ballot

March 12, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Last night, the Utah House of Representatives adjourned for the year without voting on HJR 24, a resolution to place an anti-equal opportunity measure on the state's 2010 ballot.

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Victory on Equal Opportunity in Missouri

February 26, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Civil rights advocates in Missouri have successfully kept a proposed ballot initiative that would have amended the state's constitution to eliminate equal opportunity programs in higher education, employment, and contracting off the 2010 ballot.

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African-American and Mexican-American Admissions to Law Schools Declining

January 14, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Despite their rising LSAT scores and undergraduate grade point averages between 1993 and 2008, the number of African-American and Mexican-American students admitted to law schools for the same period decreased, according to a new study by Columbia University.

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Minority-Owned Businesses Not Getting Economic Recovery Loans

December 22, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Recent data analyzed by New America Media show that Small Business Administration loans made to struggling businesses as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are not going to minority-owned businesses.

The America's Recovery Capital (ARC) Loan Program provides loans of up to $35,000 to help small businesses make it through the recession. Of the nearly 4,500 loans handed out this year, 3 percent went to Hispanic-owned businesses, 3 percent went to Asian- or Pacific Islander-owned businesses, and only 1.5 percent went to Black-owned businesses.

More than 91 percent of these loans went to White-owned businesses.

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In California, Women Virtually Absent from Corporate Boardrooms

December 9, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Approximately nine out of 10 top management and board positions at public companies based in California are held by men, according to a recent study from the University of California (UC) at Davis.

Utilizing information that companies were required to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission through May 15, 2009 – researchers found that only 10.6 percent of board seats and executive positions in California's 400 largest firms are held by women. Almost one third of those companies (118) have no women on their boards and no women in their executive offices.

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Federal District Court Upholds University of Texas Equal Opportunity Admissions Policy

September 25, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

In a major victory for equal opportunity, a federal district court ruled in favor of the University of Texas at Austin's current admissions policy, in which race is only part of the consideration process for students' admission to the university. 

The court's decision, issued by Judge Sam Sparks, lauds University of Texas' plan to "break down racial stereotypes, enable students to better understand persons of different races, better prepare students to function in a multi-cultural workforce, cultivate the next set of national leaders, and prevent minority students from serving as 'spokespersons' for their race."

The case, Fisher v. Texas, is the first to challenge the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the use of race as one of many factors colleges and universities can use in admissions.

In recent years, Texas has been a hotbed for both advocates and opponents of equal opportunity admissions.  From 1996-2003, consideration of race in the admissions process was deemed unconstitutional in Texas by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which resulted in a sharp decline of minority enrollment at Texas colleges and universities.  University of Texas at Austin's current admissions policy was adopted following Grutter, and works in tandem with a state law guaranteeing admission to the state university school system for high school students ranking in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.

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President Obama Nominates Jacqueline Berrien to Head EEOC

July 17, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Jacqueline Berrien

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Missouri Court Rejects Anti-Equal Opportunity Initiative

July 8, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

A Missouri circuit court judge recently rejected a proposed ballot initiative, sponsored by Ward Connerly and his anti-equal opportunity supporters in the state, that would amend the state's constitution to outlaw the state's equal opportunity programs in higher education, employment, and contracting.  Circuit Judge Richard Callahan rejected the initiative because of a technical error in the submission, but also said that the language of the initiative was unclear and misleading to voters.

In December 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit charging that the anti-equal opportunity ballot initiative violates the Missouri Constitution by using vague language and seeking to trick and mislead the state's voters into supporting the initiative.

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Arizona’s Equal Opportunity Programs under Threat

June 26, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Arizona's equal opportunity programs are facing a renewed assault this week after the state legislature voted to place an anti-equal opportunity initiative onto the 2010 Arizona General Election ballot.

California businessman and millionaire Ward Connerly had attempted to qualify the initiative for the ballot in 2008. However, the so-called Arizona "Civil Rights" Initiative, Proposition 104, failed to get on the ballot after the Arizona's Secretary of State disqualified more than 40 percent of the petition signatures collected by Connerly's campaign.  Connerly had faced numerous allegations of fraudulent activities and even profiteering around these initiatives in Arizona and other states.  Under Arizona state law, an initiative must have 230,047 valid signatures  from the public before it is placed on the ballot. Having failed to garner enough public support with valid petition signatures, Connerly and his supporters have chosen to go through the legislature, which is currently controlled by Republicans.

The vote on this anti-equal opportunity ballot initiative in 2010 could affect programs that many Arizonans consider essential for ensuring that all Arizonans have equal access to opportunities in education and employment. Speaking after the state Senate vote Monday, state Sen. Rebecca Rios, D. Apache Junction, noted that although some progress has been made in providing equal opportunity, there is still a great "need" for programs that are designed to level the playing field. Programs that could be affected include an Arizona State University initiative that helps Native Americans transition from life on the reservation to life at college and a counseling program for teen fathers in Phoenix.

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Today in Civil Rights History: Bakke Decision Upholds Use of Race in Public University Admissions

June 23, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Today is the 31st anniversary of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, a 1978 Supreme Court case that banned race-based quotas in college admissions while stating that these institutions have a "compelling state interest" in achieving diverse student bodies.  The Court ruled that admissions boards can use race as one of many factors to achieve diversity. 

The University of California-Davis School of Medicine had two admissions processes, one for standard applicants, and another for minority and economically disadvantaged students. After not being able to attain the desired minority and economically disadvantaged students it sought, UC Davis created the special admissions process in 1973. Each year, 16 of the 100 slots for medical school students were reserved for admits under the special program.

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