1996. California’s Proposition 209 passed in the November election.
“Prop. 209 passed in 1996 with nearly 55% of the vote. It pushed the state into what supporters hailed as a new era of equal opportunity under the law, where Californians would be judged only by their merit.” (sfchronicle.com)
Proposition 209 or the ban on affirmative action has been part of the California Constitution for almost a quarter-century, when Pete Wilson was governor.
UC Regents, in their announcement on June 15, 2020 described, “Proposition 209 [as] the state constitutional provision passed in 1996 that prohibits California from granting preferential treatment to (or discriminating against) any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting. While the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that schools may use race as a factor in admissions decisions in certain circumstances, Proposition 209 categorically prohibits California universities from any such consideration, even if there is a compelling reason and carefully tailored approach for doing so.”
Timothy P. White is chancellor of the California State University wrote on June 18, 2020 that Proposition 209 “blocked proven strategies to improve educational equity and degree completion for students of color, including scholarships and recruitment and retention programs – for both students and faculty – based on race/ethnicity. ACA 5 will eliminate these barriers and allow the CSU to consider race as one of many factors when developing programs.” (CalMatters.org)
Prop. 209 abolished all public-sector affirmative action programs in the state in employment, education and contracting. Clause (C) of Prop. 209 permits gender discrimination that is “reasonably necessary” to the “normal operation” of public education, employment and contracting. CalMatters.org explains, “The measure [Proposition 209] prohibits California’s state colleges and universities from taking into account the race, ethnicity, gender or national origin of would-be students in the admissions process. It also prevents state agencies from using such criteria in its hiring decisions or when awarding contracts for goods and services…A repeal of Prop. 209 would not mandate that state schools and agencies adopt affirmative action programs. But it would allow them to create employment or admission programs that explicitly take the race, gender or national origin of an applicant into account.”