The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
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.
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.
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.
July 17, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
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.
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.
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.
April 30, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
In a letter to the California Supreme Court, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said that implementation of the state's ban on equal opportunity to outlaw race- and gender-conscious programs and initiatives is unconstitutional because it creates "an unequal political structure based on race and gender."
"Ironically, by effectively disadvantaging racial minorities and women in the political process, without an evident compelling governmental reason for doing so, Section 31 seems to accomplish the very evil it purported to eliminate, viz. racial and gender discrimination," said Brown, in the letter.
Article 1, Section 31 of the California Constitution is based on the language of Proposition 209, a constitutional amendment voted into law by the state's voters in 1996 that bans the consideration of race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin in public hiring, contracting, and admissions to public colleges and universities.
The letter was filed after the court requested the state's opinion in Coral Construction v. City and County of San Francisco. The case, before the court now, was filed by white-owned construction companies claiming that a San Francisco ordinance designed to increase minority- and women-owned businesses' access to city contracts violates Section 31.
Brown's letter (PDF).
April 22, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ricci v. DeStefano, a race discrimination lawsuit against the city of New Haven, Connecticut, by White and Latino firefighters who claim that the city's decision not to certify the results of a firefighter promotion test discriminated against them.
Two lower courts agreed that the city made the correct decision.
In 2003, the city administered a test to firefighters seeking promotion to the positions of lieutenant and captain. After the test, the city learned that only two out of 50 minority candidates would have been eligible for the promotion based on the exam results.
New Haven is a racially mixed city. About 44 percent of its residents are White, 37 percent are Black, and 21 percent are Latino.
As an employer under employment discrimination laws, the city was responsible for re-examining the process to ensure that it was fair. The city concluded the process was flawed and chose to abandon the discriminatory exam. It ultimately found less discriminatory alternatives that accomplished the same goal.
Victor Bolden, the city's acting corporation counsel, said, "I understand [the white firefighters] disappointment, but this test had an adverse impact [on minorities]. The city did the right thing. It made a measured response in a difficult circumstance."
A decision is expected later this year.
April 10, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
In a unanimous decision, a state appeals court ruled recently that a Berkeley Unified School District diversity plan that considers neighborhood racial composition for student placement does not violate Proposition 209.
Proposition 209, voted into law in 1996, is an amendment to the California constitution that bans the consideration of race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin in public hiring, contracting, and admissions to public colleges and universities.
The Berkeley policy considers the racial makeup of neighborhoods as one factor in determining which school in the district a student will attend. The school district also considers two other factors – average household income and average education level of adults in the neighborhood where the student lives.
The court said that the policy does not violate Proposition 209 because "all students in a given residential area are treated equally – regardless of the student's individual race or other personal characteristics."
The decision, though likely to be appealed to the California Supreme Court, is positive for supporters of equal opportunity and provides school districts with some flexibility in ensuring that their schools are diverse.
April 8, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Equal opportunity initiatives ensure equal access to educational and professional opportunities for qualified minorities, women, and members of other underrepresented communities. In the 2003 Supreme Court case Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court reaffirmed the importance of these policies and stated that race could be used as one of many factors in college admissions.
California, Washington, and Michigan passed ballot initiatives that banned equal opportunity initiatives in public hiring, contracting, and admissions to public colleges and universities.
Americans for a Fair Chance is a project of The Leadership Conference Education Fund and our partner organizations.
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