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California Civil Wrongs Initiative

Students for Social Justice
Sacramento, California

"The California Civil Wrongs Initiative" -- known officially as the California Civil Rights Initiative -- was on the November 1996 ballot. It passed. The following was written at the time about the initiative itself.

Ends Affirmative Action (section "a" of CCRI)

The term "preferential treatment" is the central phrase of CCRI. Since this term is legally undefined, the impact could be wide-sweeping. What's at risk? According to the California Legislative Analyst, CCRI will not only eliminate all affirmative action programs throughout the state, but could jeopardize other crucial programs:

  • campus women's centers
  • ethnic and gender studies
  • ethnic or gender focused recruitment and retention programs
  • magnet schools designed to desegregate school districts
  • ethnic and gender outreach programs for government contracting and employment ...
    ... will be terminated.

Legalizes Sex Discrimination (section "c" of CCRI)

The language in this section legalizes sex discrimination in the workplace. Currently in California, sex discrimination is only allowed in very limited instances, when there is a compelling government interest. Uni-sex bathrooms and same-sex locker rooms are allowed, based on compelling privacy interests.

CCRI amends the California Constitution to dilute this standard and allow sex discrimination when "reasonably necessary."

A fire department could argue that they can't hire women because of the cost of building separate rest room facilities or new uniforms. An employer could argue that a woman's parental responsibilities could detract her from job responsibilities. These standards could be considered "reasonably necessary" to exclude women from employment.

What Can We Do?

The only way we can stop the attacks of the "right-wing" to deny students of color, low income students, women, and immigrants access to education and opportunities is by building a powerful voting block of these communities across the state. Students are organizing now to defeat CCRI. Get involved in the fight to save affirmative action.

Text of CCRI

a) The state shall not use race, sex, color, ethnicity. or national origin as a criterion for either discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, any individual or group in the operation of the state's system of public employment, public education or public contracting.

b) This section shall apply only to action taken after the section's effective date.

c) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex which are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.

d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as invalidating any court order or consent decree which
is in force as of the effective date of this section.

e) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting action which must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, where ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.

f) For the purposes of this section "state" shall include but not necessarily be limited to, the state itself, any city, county, city and county public university system, including the University of California, community college district, school district, special district, or any other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of or within the state.

g) The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party's race, sex color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of then-existing California anti-discrimination law.

h) This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with federal law or the United States Constitution, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that federal law and the U.S. Constitution permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

Published in In Motion Magazine October 20, 1996.

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