Supreme Court to decide if Trump banned from Colorado ballot in historic case

The highest court said that the briefs are due by Jan 31

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on whether former President Trump will be on the Colorado Republican presidential primary ballot. 

The justices said they will hear the case on an expedited basis, with arguments on Feb. 8.

“The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. The case is set for oral argument on Thursday, February 8, 2024,” the decision said. “Petitioner’s brief on the merits, and any amicus curiae briefs in support or in support of neither party, are to be filed on or before Thursday, January 18, 2024.”

The justices issued an administrative stay that orders the Colorado Secretary of State to put the former president’s name on the GOP primary ballot, at least until the case is decided.

The highest court said that the briefs are due by Jan 31.

TRUMP FIRES BACK AT JAN. 5 CRITISM, SAYS BIDEN IS A ‘TRUE THREAT TO DEMOCRACY’

The Supreme Court said that the respondents’ briefs are to be filed on or before Jan. 31, and the reply brief is to be filed on or before 5 p.m., Feb. 5.

The Colorado Supreme Court decision was the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was used to bar a presidential contender from the ballot. 

The state’s highest court concluded that Trump “engaged in insurrection” over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Click here to read the full article in FoxNews

No easy path to get Trump off the ballot

U.S. Supreme Court will almost certainly review ruling barring ex-leader from Colorado primary

DONALD Trump speaks on Jan. 6, 2021. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled his actions on this day amounted to engaging in insurrection. (Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The argument that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution bars Donald Trump from the ballot has rapidly gone from obscurity to the top of the political agenda.

In August, when I wrote about why the 14th Amendment needed to be taken seriously and how it had the potential to upend the 2024 presidential campaign, a lot of people doubted the issue would get traction.

Now, it’s about to land at the U.S. Supreme Court. Within the next couple of weeks, the justices almost certainly will announce that they’ll review Tuesday’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling barring Trump from the state’s primary ballot.

But getting to the Supreme Court may prove to be the easy part. To win the case, Trump’s opponents have to surmount some big hurdles. Perhaps the toughest stems from Congress’ failure to take action in response to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The 4-3 ruling by Colorado’s highest court held that Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack amounted to “engag[ing] in an insurrection.” Under the 14th Amendment, that means Trump is barred from holding any federal office, including the presidency, the Colorado court ruled.

The 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution after the Civil War. Section 3 of the amendment, written to keep former leaders of the Confederacy out of the government, says this:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

The gist is clear: A person who has taken an oath as an “officer of the United States” and then has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” cannot “hold any office, civil or military, under the United States” unless two-thirds of Congress votes to allow it.

The details, however, are thorny. Among the unresolved questions:

Who is an “officer of the United States”? Is the presidency covered?

What does the text mean by “insurrection or rebellion”? Does the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol qualify?

Who gets to rule on whether someone has engaged in an insurrection? Can that be decided without a trial?

The Colorado court ruling affects only Colorado. Logically, however, if the Constitution bans Trump from office, the ban is effective in all states. Either he’s eligible or he isn’t. That’s why the U.S. Supreme Court almost certainly will take up the case — it’s the only body that can ensure uniformity of the law across the country. Of the nine justices on the high court, six are Republicans. But partisanship may not save Trump; the justices have already shown their willingness to rebuff him, rejecting appeals by his allies after he lost the 2020 election, for example.

Trump’s lawyers argue that the amendment doesn’t apply to the presidency. The text specifically mentions senators and representatives, they note, but doesn’t mention the president.

The Colorado Supreme Court rejected that argument. “Any office, civil or military” clearly includes the nation’s highest office, the judges said. Any other reading would be inconsistent with the purpose of the amendment — to prevent rebels from regaining positions of power.

“President Trump asks us to hold that Section Three disqualifies every oathbreaking insurrectionist except the most powerful one and that it bars oath-breakers from virtually every office, both state and federal, except the highest one in the land,” they wrote, emphasizing the alleged exception for the presidency. That, they said, would be “inconsistent with the plain language and history of Section Three.”

Most legal scholars who have written about the 14th Amendment take that side.

The other questions have generated more disagreement.

Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? The riot was a violent attack on the seat of government, and it temporarily disrupted congressional business. But it was a far cry from the Civil War, which took the lives of 2% of the entire U.S. population — the equivalent of 6 million people today. Just what did the authors of the 14th Amendment have in mind when they wrote “insurrection or rebellion”?

“These are demanding terms, connoting only the most serious of uprisings against the government, such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the Civil War,” wrote professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School, one of the scholars who has argued for a narrow reading of what’s covered. “The terms of Section 3 should not be defined down to include mere riots or civil disturbances, which are common in United States history,” he said.

Other scholars take the opposite view.

If Jan. 6 was an insurrection, did Trump engage in it?

That’s not purely a legal question; it’s a factual one — the sort normally resolved by a trial. The 14th Amendment doesn’t say, however, that it applies to people who are convicted of insurrection; instead, it bars those who have engaged in one. That suggests something less than a full-dress criminal trial may suffice; but clearly some process has to exist to decide whether any particular individual is covered.

In Colorado, state District Judge Sarah B. Wallace held a five-day hearing, starting Oct. 30, in which she took testimony about Jan. 6. In mid-November, she ruled that Trump had engaged in the insurrection.

But was that hearing fair? Trump’s lawyers say no. So does one of the three dissenting Colorado Supreme Court justices, Carlos Samour Jr.

The hearing was “stripped … of many basic protections that normally accompany a civil trial, never mind a criminal trial,” he wrote in his dissent. “I have been involved in the justice system for thirty-three years now, and what took place here doesn’t resemble anything I’ve seen in a courtroom.”

Even if the U.S. Supreme Court feels that the process was fair, it’s highly unlikely the justices would allow a single state court judge to make a factual finding for the entire country. But allowing each of the 50 states to make its own decision seems equally undesirable, and likely to invite a cacophony of conflicting rulings.

That’s the central problem with the whole case, Samour wrote, warning about “the potential chaos wrought by an imprudent, unconstitutional, and standardless system in which each state gets to adjudicate Section 3 disqualification cases on an ad hoc basis.”

The Supreme Court makes rulings on the law, not on findings of fact, so it’s not in a position to create a fair process for deciding whether Trump — or anyone else — is an insurrectionist.

Congress is the one body that could solve the problem. It could do what a previous Congress did after the Civil War: create, by law, a procedure for deciding who has engaged in conduct covered by the 14th Amendment’s ban.

That, however, is not going to happen. Ever since Jan. 6, Trump’s Republican allies have made sure that lawmakers would take no action on it beyond holding hearings. Their support spared Trump from conviction after he was impeached over the Capitol attack.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

The Supreme Court Corrects a Grievous Error

In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, it finally removed higher education’s exemption from the principle of colorblindness.

In every area of life, the Constitution and federal civil-rights laws forbid the government from using race in making decisions. Government cannot use race to distribute government funds, provide benefits, deploy police, run prisons or hospitals, or even protect the nation’s security through “racial profiling.” But the Court carved out one area from this fundamental colorblind principle. In Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the Supreme Court created a special exception for admissions to colleges and universities. A majority in Grutter accepted the claim that colleges could use racial diversity as a proxy for intellectual diversity — which relies upon the stereotyping assumption that a student’s mindset depends on his or her race.

Yesterday, in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the Supreme Court finally cut this cancer out of constitutional law. In a monumental 6–3 opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court invalidated the race-linked admissions programs maintained by Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The Court affirmed the foundational constitutional principle of equality under the law, regardless of race. If the Court’s decision is respected and enforced, it is unlikely that any race-linked college-admissions program in any public university or federally funded private university would survive. It is quite likely that no faculty hiring or promotion in which race played a part will be legally permissible. The one sector in American society that had been exempt from legal rules banning the use of race — higher education — will be forced to transform itself.

Do not expect the universities to comply meekly with the Court’s ruling. Many of them had been planning how to evade the expected decision even before it came down. But even if massive resistance is likely (as it was with the Warren Court’s desegregation orders in the 1950s), litigants will keep up the pressure on the universities to purge their selection procedures of hidden, as well as overt, racial preferences. And the Court has laid out clear and firm guidelines for the lower courts to follow in adjudicating those cases. Racial preferences — and any subterfuges designed to conceal such preferences — are forbidden.

Several of the justices in the SFFA majority have long held racial preferences in their crosshairs. “It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 2007 case denying race-conscious policies in K–12 schools. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” The late Justice Antonin Scalia had even harsher words for race-based affirmative action: “Discrimination on the basis of race is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, inherently wrong, and destructive of democratic society.” And according to the Court’s sharpest critic of racial preferences, Justice Clarence Thomas, “every time the government places citizens on racial registers and makes race relevant to the provision of burdens or benefits, it demeans us all.”

In reaching its stunning conclusion, the Court did not expressly overturn any existing precedent (though it certainly disemboweled Grutter). Rather, it reaffirmed a standard of judicial review — “strict scrutiny” — for racial classifications that traces back to its decisions in the 1940s and that it has ostensibly applied since then. Strict scrutiny permits the use of race only when a) the government has a “compelling” interest and b) nothing other than the use of race provides a means to achieve that objective. Judged by that standard, nearly all governmental reliance on race is invalid. (There might be incidental exceptions, like keeping certain statistics, say, for public-health purposes.) The strict-scrutiny standard, if honestly applied, ensures that our Constitution is color-blind. Throughout the civil-rights era, judges and lawyers would quip that strict scrutiny is strict in theory, but fatal in fact. Beginning in the late 1970s, however, cases like Bakke, Grutter, and Fisher v. University of Texas purportedly applied strict scrutiny, but in fact used a much more lenient standard toward admissions policies. Yesterday, the Court returned to the classic interpretation of strict scrutiny.

The colorblindness principle is a keystone of the American Constitution, as the Court’s opinion, and the historic concurring opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas, demonstrate at length. That principle found its roots in the Declaration of Independence and the abolitionist movement, triumphed in the Emancipation Proclamation and the Reconstruction amendments, and overcame legalized segregation with Brown v. Board of Education and the civil-rights movement. “The Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence, and the sentiments of the founders of the Republic, give us a platform broad enough, and strong enough, to support the most comprehensive plans for the freedom and elevation of all the people of this country, without regard to color, class, or clime,” Frederick Douglass declared in criticizing the infamous Dred Scott decision. As Justice Harlan famously wrote in dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld racial segregation: “Our constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.” Or, as Justice Scalia put it pithily in his Adarand Contractors v. Peña concurrence, “in the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.”

The decision to prohibit the universities’ use of race will, as a matter of constitutional law, mark the end of the Supreme Court’s misbegotten deviation from colorblindness. The Court has steadily banned racial discrimination in every other part of public life. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Court began dismantling the pernicious government policy of segregated schools. It recited arguments that pressed the “fundamental contention” that “no State has any authority under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.” (Justice Thomas’s opinion repeatedly cites the government’s brief in the Brown case, in which the Eisenhower administration emphatically endorsed the colorblindness principle.) City of Richmond v. Croson made clear that the 14th Amendment’s insistence on colorblindness prohibited state and local governments from considering race when spending money or awarding contracts. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s opinion explained that racial preferences present the serious “danger that a racial classification is merely the product of unthinking stereotypes or a form of racial politics.” Then, in Adarand Constructors v. Peña, the Court made it crystal clear that this bar also applied to the federal government.

In standing up for the colorblind Constitution yesterday, the Supreme Court has finally closed the book on its own unfortunate history with race. In Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), the Court’s first effort to solve the nation’s race problem proved a disaster. Chief Justice Roger Taney thought he could head off a looming division between North and South by striking down the Missouri Compromise, holding that blacks could never become U.S. citizens, and forbidding congressional regulation of slavery in the territories. By departing from the Constitution in the name of enlightened elite opinion, Taney only hastened the coming of the Civil War.

The Court disgraced itself again in its next major encounter with race, Plessy v. FergusonPlessy upheld not just the concept of “separate but equal” but also the right of governments to enact policies based on race, thereby ushering in the Jim Crow era. In yet a third case, Korematsu, the Court, despite adopting the strict-scrutiny standard, allowed the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II because the government assumed that their ethnicity indicated disloyalty.

The Court sought to restore its reputation in Brown v. Board of Education, which finally put an end to segregation in public schools. It undertook the difficult work of uprooting de jure racism in area after area, from public facilities to employment to government contracts. The elected branches also sought to end official racism, with President Harry Truman desegregating the military, President Dwight D. Eisenhower helping enforce Brown, President John F. Kennedy prohibiting racial discrimination by government contractors, and Congress enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Unfortunately, however, the pursuit of racial equality and integration has mutated into a new ideology of racial diversity. Both now and in the past, the Court has allowed the use of race to remedy discrimination experienced by identifiable victims. But in the context of higher education, where many minority applicants by the 1990s had neither suffered the direct effects of segregation nor been victims of discrimination themselves, racial diversity became an end in itself.

Justice Lewis F. Powell’s 1978 Bakke opinion defended racial diversity as a way of promoting intellectual diversity in classroom discussion — a laudable end aligned with the First-Amendment values of free speech and open inquiry. But anyone familiar with American campuses today can see that free and open debate is getting harder to find. Even liberal academics, like Yale Law School dean Anthony Kronman in his The Assault on American Excellence (2019), acknowledge and deplore the corrupting effects of the post-Bakke pursuit of racial diversity for its own sake.

The Bakke Court split 4–4 between the justices who would have upheld the constitutionality of a quota for admission to a state medical school and four who would have struck it down. Powell provided the decisive fifth vote, ruling that the school’s racial set-aside was not constitutional but also upholding the “Harvard Plan” as a model of constitutionally permissible racial preferences. Powell’s argument pivoted on distinguishing a numerical “quota” from a “goal”: Race could be considered as a “plus factor” in the admissions process because it would contribute to creating greater “diversity” of opinion in the student body. It was a harmless feature of admissions policy, like upgrading a candidate by a notch for being a saxophone player. Powell erroneously maintained that all this was compatible with strict-scrutiny. In Grutter, a majority of the Court tracked Powell’s Bakke opinion, declared the time-limited use of race in college admissions, and hoped that such preferences would last no more than 25 years.

Ironically, Harvard both provided the template for the racial preferences allowed under Bakke and now ruled illegal under SFFA.

Nonetheless, history suggests that even the clear holding in SFFA — like Brown nearly 70 years ago — will be, to paraphrase Churchill, not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. Massive resistance may arise from an entrenched educational bureaucracy that elevates diversity above all other values, including excellence and merit. Here, just as in Brown, parents and students — who overwhelmingly reject racial preferences — will not be able to eliminate the use of skin color in one fell swoop, but only after a series of cases across the nation.

Striking down the admissions programs at Harvard and UNC is thus the easy part. Both schools admitted that they use overt racial preferences. And the undisputed factual record in both cases confirmed that racial preferences affected admissions decisions. At Harvard, Asian-American applicants had lower acceptance rates than did white students at every academic decile. An Asian-American applicant at the fourth-lowest decile had less than a 1 percent chance of being admitted, while an African-American applicant in the fourth-lowest decile had a 12.8 percent chance. African Americans in that fourth-lowest decile had the same chance of admission as an Asian-American applicant in the top decile of applicants (12.7 percent). The numbers at UNC were equally striking.

The campaign to enforce the colorblindness principle will not end here. Many (though by no means all) universities are as committed to using race in admissions as ever. The history of resistance to Brown suggests that universities will respond to a loss at the Supreme Court not by abandoning their goal of an ideal racial balance but by covertly pursuing the same end through less obvious means. Instead of openly considering skin color in admissions, universities will shift gears to achieve the same racial proportions through facially neutral proxies. Colleges will disguise their use of race behind pretexts such as personality and leadership scores, as Harvard tried to do. At the end of his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts tries to extinguish some of these brush fires before they can start.

Click here to read the full article in the National Review

The Supreme Court’s Warning About Prop. 13

A decision in a Minnesota case revives questions about injustice and California’s tax revolt law.

Late last week, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a decades-old Minnesota property tax law was unlawful when it allowed the government to seize wealth from an elderly Black homeowner. The decision in Tyler vs. Hennepin County serves as a warning about legal defects in other property tax laws that unfairly harm communities of color, including California’s own Proposition 13.

The Minnesota case began when Geraldine Tyler failed to pay the taxes on her longtime Minneapolis home. Over several years, the tax debt accumulated to $2,300, exploding to $15,000 when penalties and fines were added. The county seized her condominium and sold it, keeping the entire proceeds — $40,000 — not just the $15,000 she owed.

The Supreme Court proclaimed that this money grab was unjust and unconstitutional under the 5th Amendment’s takings clause. It rejected Hennepin County’s legal reliance on the 13th century Statute of Gloucester, a law that Justice Neil M. Gorsuch characterized during oral arguments as being “about lands owned by the feudal lord and what happens when a vassal fails to provide enough wheat to his lord.”

The court’s determination that what happened to Tyler didn’t meet constitutional standards echoes and revives a concern raised in the 1990s about Proposition 13.

California’s tax-assessment limits demand radically different property taxes from owners of similar properties, based only on their time of purchase. Thirty years ago, Stephanie Nordlinger balked at paying nearly five times in property taxes for her Los Angeles home as longer-settled neighbors. An unmoved Supreme Court majority held that the differential treatment had a rational basis, but Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed.

In his dissent, Stevens concluded that Proposition 13 created “a privilege of a medieval character: Two families with equal needs and equal resources are treated differently solely because of their different heritage.”

The Supreme Court’s blessing in Nordlinger vs. Hahn upheld Proposition 13’s legality and established its feudal — and unfair — nature.

Proposition 13 raises race discrimination concerns. Assessment caps benefit long-standing homeowners — who are often white — at the expense of their more diverse neighbors who arrive later. The effects of such property taxes on homeownership’s demography suggest violations of the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act. Recent estimates show that Proposition 13 gives the average homeowner in a white neighborhood of Oakland, for example, a tax break of nearly $10,000 each year — more than triple the break provided to average homeowners in Latino neighborhoods, and about double those in Black and Asian neighborhoods in Oakland.

Ironically, people just like Tyler were the original faces of the battle to enact Proposition 13 in California and similar measures around the country. Activists in the 1970s and 1980s invoked stories of elderly widows losing their homes to convince voters that property taxes should be based on a home’s purchase price and allowed to rise just 2% a year from there, regardless of market value.

But such assessment limits have not lived up to their promise to protect homeowners. Michigan also limits the amount that an owner’s assessment can rise. Yet as real estate values declined in Detroit, those limits did not ensure that assessments fell to match, leaving low-income Black homeowners with inflated, unaffordable taxes. Like Tyler in Minnesota, many residents were forced out of their homes through tax foreclosures.

In California, Proposition 13’s overbroad system protects the propertied at a high cost to more diverse, first-time buyers. People may stay put to hold on to a tax advantage, limiting inventory and driving up home costs. Parents can also pass low tax assessments on to their children, exacerbating the problem.

The California Housing Finance Agency notes that “for the entire 2010s, California’s Black homeownership rate has been lower than it was in the 1960s, when it was completely legal to discriminate against Black homebuyers.”

While Proposition 13’s precise inequitable effects are complicated, more inclusive and less legally tenuous alternatives exist.

There are other tax reforms that could protect low-income and elderly homeowners without hamstringing cities’ tax bases and enriching wealthy owners.

Philadelphia allows low-income senior citizens to freeze their property taxes, and low-income families to spread rapid assessment increases over several years. In Massachusetts and some Connecticut towns, low-income homeowners can defer part of their property tax bill, which is paid off upon the home’s sale. California has its own property tax postponement program, which it should expand, instead of relying on Proposition 13.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Minnesota’s greediness reminds us that the courts are watching as states tighten the vise of property tax systems on the poor and racially diverse. To be sure, Proposition 13 does not result in unconstitutional “takings.” But the concerns that motivated the court in Tyler vs. Hennepin County also apply here. And given the court’s willingness to reverse long-held constitutional precedent, perhaps the Nordlinger decision itself will be due for reconsideration.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Demonstrators March for Reproductive Rights in Wake of Abortion Pill Ruling

LOS ANGELES – A march for reproductive rights Saturday in Los Angeles organized by the Women’s March Foundation to support abortion rights drew hundreds of protesters along with Vice President Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.

The march was planned in response to a ruling by a federal judge in Texas that could overturn the FDA’s approval of the most common abortion drug in the United States.

The protesters oppose the recent Texas court decision on Mifepristone, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states to ban abortion, which was ruled to be a Constitutional right 50 years ago.

SUGGESTED: Court preserves access to abortion drug, tightens rules

The march began at Pershing Square around noon and wound its way to the steps of City Hall, where the crowd was addressed by Harris, in town for the event. Around 1:30 p.m., Harris and husband Douglas Emhoff rallied the crowd to fight for women’s fundamental rights.

“Around our country, supposed so-called extremist leaders, who would dare to silence the voice of the people, a United States Supreme Court — the highest court in our land — that took a Constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America,” Harris said.

SUGGESTED: Supreme Court’s abortion pill order spares safe havens for now

“We have seen attacks on voting rights, attacks on fundamental rights to love and to marry the people that you love, attacks on the ability of people to be themselves and be proud of the people who they are. And so this is a moment that history will show required each of us based on our collective love of our country to stand up for and fight for to protect our ideals. That’s what this moment is,” Harris said.

Mayor Bass exhorted the crowd saying, “First, they wanted to ban abortions. Now, they want to ban medication. What is wrong with them?”

The Supreme Court has stayed the Texas ruling for a short period so the justices can review the matter and either extend the stay or send it back to the lower court. Either way, the case will likely end up back in their lap as there was a ruling by a Washington state judge that ordered the FDA to preserve access to Mifepristone in 17 states where abortion remains legal.

Click here to read the full article at Fox11

California Banned Affirmative Action in 1996. Inside the UC Struggle for Diversity

For nearly half a century, the University of California has been at the center of national debates over affirmative action and who is entitled to coveted seats in the premier public higher education system.

In 1974, after Allan Bakke, a white applicant, was rejected from the UC Davis medical school, he alleged reverse discrimination and sued, becoming the namesake of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case curbing racial quotas. In 1995, UC regents voted to eliminate affirmative action and one of them, Ward Connerly, championed a successful campaign a year later to pass Proposition 209, the nation’s first ballot initiative to ban consideration of race and gender in public education, hiring and contracting. Over the last decade, California legislators have launched at least three attempts to restore affirmative action in college admissions — all have failed.

As the U.S. Supreme Court opens oral arguments Monday on whether to strike down affirmative action in cases involving Harvard and the University of North Carolina, UC’s long struggle to bring diversity to its 10 campuses offers lessons on the promise and limitations of race-neutral admission practices.

The Californiatakeaway: Nothing can fully substitute for affirmative action practices that allow universities to admit a diverse student body, including using income and parent educational levels as proxies for race. But after passage of Proposition 209 touched off UC’s 25-year slog of trial and error — plus a massive investment of more than a half-billion dollars on diversity measures — a meaningful difference can be made.

“While California has not identified a really effective policy to promote diversity other than affirmative action, it has shown experimentation is beneficial for targeted students,” said Zachary Bleemer, a Yale University assistant professor of economics and research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. “And so it’s worth it.”

UC President Michael V. Drake and all 10 chancellors have submitted an amicus brief in support of Harvard and UNC’s affirmative action policies. Calling UC a “laboratory for experimentation” on using race-neutral measures to promote diversity, the university leaders said that decades of outreach programs to low-income students and re-crafted admissions policies have fallen short.

“Those programs have enabled UC to make significant gains in its system-wide diversity,” the brief said. “Yet despite its extensive efforts, UC struggles to enroll a student body that is sufficiently racially diverse to attain the educational benefits of diversity.”

For some private universities, which are allowed to use affirmative action, the looming high court decision is causing consternation. Many experts predict the court’s conservative majority will strike down race-based preferences in a case that could affect not only higher education, but potentially the workplace as well.

“You are talking about the devastation of the American admissions process for students of color, full stop,” said Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr. “Affirmation action is hands down the best tool we have for maintaining racial and ethnic diversity in colleges in the United States.”

Initially, Proposition 209 drastically reduced diversity at UC’s most competitive campuses. In 1998, the first admissions year affected by the ban, the number of California Black and Latino first-year students plunged by nearly half at UCLA and UC Berkeley. William Kidder, a UC Riverside civil rights investigator, recalled his shock when he entered UC Berkeley law school in 1998 and found that his first-year class of 270 included only six or seven Black students, compared with four times that many in the class two years ahead of him enrolled before Proposition 209.

“The lack of diversity in the classroom had a negative impact on my learning as a student,” said Kidder, who is white. “The range of viewpoints and quality of discussion about ideas were inhibited.”

California State University’s 23 campuses did not lose nearly as many Black and Latino students as UC did, and the system’s enrollment today nearly fully reflects the state’s diversity. Among its 422,391 undergraduates in fall 2021, 47% are Latino, 21% white, 16% Asian and 4% Black.

That closely mirrors the demographics of the state’s 217,910 California high school students who met UC and CSU eligibility standards in 2020-21: 45% are Latino, 26% white, 16% Asian and 4% Black. CSU’s wider access, more affordable price tag and greater ease of commuting from home may be some reasons behind the greater diversity.

But diversity varies, with proportions of Latino and Black students lower at several of the more selective CSU campuses. At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — with a 31% admission rate in fall 2021 — 53% of undergraduates are white, 19% Latino, 14% Asian and 1% Black. At Cal State Los Angeles — with an 80% admission rate — 72% of students are Latino, 11% Asian, 4% Black and 4% white.

“While Proposition 209 promoted race neutrality in university student recruitment, admissions, financial aid, student academic support and employee hiring, the policy has made it more challenging to erase equity and opportunity gaps that exist in the CSU,” the university said in a statement. “Despite the challenges that have resulted, the CSU has continued to serve significant numbers of students from underrepresented communities over the years and we continue outreach efforts to provide access to students who are Black, indigenous or people of color and provide support once they are enrolled in the university.”

UC enrollment still does not fully reflect the state’s racial and ethnic makeup — falling particularly short with Latinos, who made up just 30% of the system’s 189,173 California undergraduates in fall 2021. Students of Mexican heritage are by far the largest undergraduate ethnic group, however.

But campuses are making notable strides. Black and Latino students increased to 43% of the admitted first-year class of Californians for fall 2022 compared with about 20% before Proposition 209. For the third straight year, Latinos were the largest ethnic group of admitted students at 37%, followed by Asian Americans at 35%, white students at 19% and Black students at 6%.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Barbara Boxer: Time to ‘Introduce Articles of Impeachment’ Against Clarence Thomas

Former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said Friday on MSNBC’s “The Beat” that it is time to “introduce articles of impeachment” against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Boxer was discussing Thomas’ ruling against releasing documents to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol in light of reports his far-right activist wife texted then-chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 presidential election.

Boxer said, “I looked at it from the lens of someone who served on the Bipartisan Ethics Committee in the Senate for many years. I was chair and co-chair for all those years. I would say this, I thought if Clarence Thomas had been a Senator and his wife was texting the president’s chief of staff about overturning democracy, Clarence Thomas, if he were a senator, would have been thrown out of the Senate if he knew about it and did not recuse himself from the case.”

She continued, “Even though in our history only one Supreme Court justice has been impeached, that was in 1804, I still think it would be good for someone to introduce articles of impeachment, to lay out this abuse of power for everyone to see.”

Host Ari Melber said, “You’re saying, though, that your read here is, this is a potentially impeachable issue for Justice Thomas?”

Click here to read the full article at BreitbartCA

Why I think Jackson’s Nomination Should Be Rejected

I went into the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson thinking that she should be confirmed — and would be, by a wider margin than most people expected. I finished the week believing that Jackson’s nomination should be rejected and that Democratic senators and President Biden had made a serious error by not taking seriously enough Jackson’s record of imposing light sentences in child pornography cases.

When I asked Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) what he had taken away from the hearings, he replied that Jackson is “a nice person, has an accomplished background, but when it comes to judging, I’ve learned several things that are incredibly unnerving.”

Chief among these — for Graham and for me — was the three-month sentence for possession of child porn that Jackson gave to Wesley Hawkins. (Jackson’s sentence also included three months of home detention and six years of supervision.) But there were other controversial sentences rendered by the judge — and all of them are facts, not made-up allegations.

“It’s not the sentence she gives in child pornography cases,” Graham told me. “They’re always on the low end, and that is disturbing. But what I learned is that this judge will not consider as a sentence enhancement the fact that the perpetrator … went on the Internet to pull down the images, and the more images the person pulls down doesn’t count in her world.”

Graham also brought to my attention this newspaper’s editorial, which compared Jackson’s hearings unfavorably to the slanderous assault in 2018 on then-nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. That comparison is ludicrous in part because, as conservative pundit Guy Benson pointed out on Twitter, every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn, in part because of the outrageous allegations of drugging women at parties that were allowed to be made against Kavanaugh by Julie Swetnick and her lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is now in jail from an unrelated extortion case.

Whether or not one believes Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of assault on her by Kavanaugh while in high school — and I do not — the attacks on Kavanaugh came after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was the top Democrat on the committee, sat on the allegations for weeks and failed toimmediately share them with the committee, the Senate or the nominee.

No, the two sets of hearings aren’t even in the same universe.

But it’s hardly a revelation that the Kavanaugh outrage remains a scarlet wound on the reputation of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans want nothing to do with attacks on nominees based on alleged acts from long ago, or from high school yearbooks and the like. The battle to redefine what happened in the Kavanaugh hearings will go on, just as it still rages on about the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991.

The GOP did use the Jackson hearings to again revisit the wrongs done to Janice Rogers Brown, a Black California Supreme Court justice who was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit only after a two-year filibuster by Senate Democrats. Judicial politics are now all about memories.

That’s partly because the Judiciary Committee is the front line of the culture war. And it is partly because the left is losing ground in America. And so, it must hold on to whatever turf it has, particularly in the judiciary.

Click here to read the full article at the Washington Post

California Lawmakers, Abortion Proponents Unveil Plan To Create Abortion Sanctuary State

Recommendations include funding abortion groups, funding support infrastructure at abortion clinics, improving Medi-Cal abortion policies

Dozens of California abortion clinics, pro-abortion groups, and lawmakers in favor of abortion presented a plan Wednesday to make California a sanctuary state for those wanting abortions in case the landmark Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court next year.

Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that women have the right to an abortion without state interference within the first trimester of a pregnancy. Despite a few challenges and alteration challenges in the last 48 years, the wording was only changed once. 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey changed the first trimester wording to fetal viability. Since then, it has been worded as “A person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception.”

However, in recent years, a number of states have passed restrictive abortion laws, such as the Texas Heartbeart Act, which virtually ends nearly all abortions in the state after six weeks due to a detected heartbeat. Another case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenges a 2018 Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks.

The Supreme Court also reached a definitive conservative majority last year following Amy Coney Barrett being confirmed as the next Justice in place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had died in October 2020.

Now, with the Supreme Court giving indications that they would rule in favor of the state and ban abortions once again to some degree in the Dobbs case, with the most likely outcome kicking abortion laws back to the states, Californian abortion supporters are now putting a plan in place to welcome the influx of women seeking a legal abortion.

According to a report by the California Future of Abortion Council, 26 states would likely see abortion bans if Roe v. Wade is overturned, including Texas, Utah, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and Florida. As California has a large number of reproductive clinics and a mostly non-harassment environment from protestors, the number of women estimated to come to California for abortions will go from the current 46,000 a year to 1.4 million a year, with the largest number likely to come from Arizona.

However, California abortion and reproductive care currently has many barriers for women seeking treatment coming from outside the state, including the long drive times to the state, high costs for things such as co-pays and deductibles, and difficulty in finding more specialized providers. An influx of Texas patients this year in California due to the new Texas law highlighted highlighted the potential issues of a sudden influx, and showed the areas where California needs improvement. With demand likely to go up by astronomical numbers should Roe v. Wade falls, California abortion groups and lawmakers started coming up with a plan on Wednesday to address this issue.

California’s sanctuary state plans

The California Future of Abortion Council’s report specifically has 45 recommendations for the state in a sanctuary capacity, including funding many abortion groups to provide care, funding support infrastructure at abortion clinics, improving Medi-Cal abortion policies, give more protections to those seeking abortions, and even help fund travel, lodging, and procedure costs for those otherwise unable to afford the procedure. The recommendations, written largely by abortion provider experts and lawmakers, such as Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego),

“We’re looking at how to build capacity and build workforce,” noted Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California CEO Jodi Hicks on Wednesday. “It will take a partnership and investment with the state.”

However, those opposing abortion in California plan to push back against those recommendations should they be enacted.

“We know that we aren’t going to get California to ban abortion should Roe be overturned,” explained Kathy Weber, a San Bernardino County anti-abortion group leader who assists women who choose to give birth after previously wanting an abortion. “Not the way the state is now. But we can try and stop the state from outright paying people to come here or to loosen laws here even more.”

“But it has been hard recently, especially with the Texas surge of people coming into California for abortions. When neighboring states get bans and California getting this huge influx as sort as an abortion-vacation destination like how many Americans go to Mexico to get dental work, this will be a big problem.”

“We don’t want California’s new growth industry to be abortion clinics.”

Proponents of the recommendations are currently eyeing multiple funding sources, including the state’s projected $31 billion surplus, for next year.

This article was originally published by the California Globe

Defending Direct Democracy and Defending Taxpayers

vote ballotsThe powers of direct democracy — initiative, referendum and recall — are powerful tools to control slow-moving or corrupt politicians. These powers are enshrined in the California Constitution for reasons that are just as compelling in 2019 as they were in 1911 when Gov. Hiram Johnson, seeking to suppress the absolute control the railroads had over the state Capitol, pushed to give ordinary citizens a “legislative battering ram” — using the language of the Supreme Court — to address issues that for whatever reason the Legislature refuses to address.

Political elites hate the initiative process. From their perspective it allows the great unwashed and unsophisticated to deal with matters such as taxation, victims’ rights, insurance and most importantly political reform. These are issues over which politicians strongly desire to exercise a legislative monopoly.

Like any political process, however, direct democracy can be abused. Some matters are indeed complicated and not well suited to a sound-bite campaign. Also, special interests with a lot of money can overwhelm the airwaves with TV and radio ads to convince a majority of voters (especially in a low-turnout election) to pass something they might later regret. Nonetheless, for taxpayers, direct democracy remains one of the few tools we have to protect ourselves.

Landmark initiative measures such as Propositions 13 and 218 have given taxpayers the kind of protection against greedy government entities that we would never have obtained but for rights granted through direct democracy. But taxpayers must do more than propose initiatives and convince voters to enact them. We must also defend them in court against never-ending assaults. For years, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has maintained a potent litigation capacity with three full-time lawyers and access to dozens more willing to defend not just taxpayer-sponsored initiatives but the very power of direct democracy itself.

And so it is that HJTA finds itself back before the California Supreme Court on an important direct democracy case.

To read the entire column, please click here.