California's affirmative action battle is not over
November 4, 1997
Web posted at: 12:05 a.m. EST (0505 GMT)
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- The battle over affirmative action in California will go on despite Monday's decision by the Supreme Court not to hear challenges to Proposition 209.
Californians approved Proposition 209 a year ago, voting to ban the use of race or gender in state hiring, contracting or school admissions.
Both sides of the debate are now saying the issue is headed back to court, and leaders are among those choosing sides.
Gov. Pete Wilson, Proposition 209's chief proponent, says he will sue California communities that do not abide by it.
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But San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown says he plans to keep affirmative action in his city. "There will be no change in the program in San Francisco," he said. ( 152 K/7 sec. AIFF or WAV sound )
Not if he can help it, says Glynn Custred, co-author of Proposition 209.
"Willie Brown, like Richard Nixon, thinks he's above the law. Willie Brown, like his soul mate George Wallace, is going to stand in the way of civil rights, and we are going to bring every legal measure we can against the Willie Browns," he said.
Ed Chen, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, predicts there will be many lawsuits over Proposition 209 in California.
"Several kinds of cases are going to come up," he said. "What is the meaning of 209? One is what is a preference? Does it apply to school desegregation? Does it apply to remedies for proven discrimination? Does it apply to recruitment? We don't know those answers at this point," he said.
Chen says his organization will keep fighting Proposition 209.
"We are going to continue to fight for equality. We believe that affirmative action in certain circumstances is required, is warranted and is the only way to really achieve true integration in our nation," he said.
Although the Supreme Court would not hear California's case, it will eventually rule on the issue of affirmative action.
The justices have agreed to hear a Piscataway, New Jersey, case over a school board's decision to lay off a white teacher but keep a black teacher. In that case, the court will have to decide if affirmative action can be used to foster diversity even if there is no past record of discrimination to remedy.
Correspondent Don Knapp and Senior Washington Correspondent Charles Bierbauer contributed to this report.