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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

California Proposition 209

On November 5, 1996 California voters approved an initiative amending the State Constitution's Article 1, Sec. 31, to prohibit "preferential treatment" based on "race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin" by the State or any of its subdivisions or in strumentalities in employment, education or contracting programs.

Proposition 209 abolishes California's public equal opportunity program. It requires that the State deny "preferential treatment" in certain activities to certain persons only. The State or its instrumentalities such as local governments may grant preferential treatment based on characteristics other than "race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin" on other bases, say, to veterans."

The primary change that Proposition 209 makes to existing law is to close that narrow but significant window that permits the governmental race- and gender-conscious affirmative action programs...that are still permissible under the U.S. Constitution." 

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