On November 12th, 2010, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah State Senator Margaret Dayton (R-Orem), who frequently grades out among the most conservative members of the Utah State Legislature, will sponsor a proposed amendment to the Utah Constitution outlawing affirmative action. If passed, it would ban any form of preferential treatment in Utah based on race, gender or ethnicity. It is expected that Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) would push it on the House side, as he co-sponsored a similar bill, HJR24, written by Rep. Curtis Oda (R-Clearfield), in 2010 (more background HERE). While HJR24 got a favorable recommendation from a standing committee, it got sidetracked in Rules and died. Democrats and moderate Republicans joined forces to block HJR24.
However, Republicans gained five Democratic seats in the November 2nd election, and some Republicans who opposed the amendment are either retiring or have been replaced by more conservative legislators. Nevertheless, House Minority Leader Rep. David Litvack (D-Salt Lake) does not think passage would be a slam dunk.
The effort will kick off with a debate at Calvary Baptist Church on Monday November 15th at 6 P.M. Opposing affirmative action will be Sen. Dayton, Rep. Oda, and Ward Connerly, president of the American Civil Rights Institute. Supporting affirmative action will be Rep. Litvack and attorney Mary Deiss Brown.
If Sen. Dayton's bill is similar to last session's HJR24, it would propose to enact Utah Constitution Article I, Section 30, which would specifically prohibit state agencies, public universities, and cities, towns and local districts from granting any preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. If the proposed amendment receives the required two-thirds vote from both the House and Senate, it would be put on the ballot for voter approval during the 2012 election, which gives supporters time to get the resolution approved. Federal law, such as Title IX, would still trump any state amendment, and the law would not apply to private businesses or schools, except those that contract with the state.
Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute also showed up in Utah during the last session to help push Rep. Oda's bill, and he argued that impediments to minorities have disappeared over the years. The problem with affirmative action, as he sees it, is that presupposes that minorities are disadvantaged by definition and whites are privileged by definition. Back on July 22nd, 2010, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) penned a devastating critique of affirmative action in the Wall Street Journal. Entitled "Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege", Webb noted that "Lyndon Johnson's initial program for affirmative action was based on the 13th Amendment and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which authorized the federal government to take actions in order to eliminate 'the badges of slavery'. Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath".
But Webb then went on to say, "Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years".
If Jim Webb isn't enough to convince you that affirmative action is unjust, watch this debate between American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor and Adam Lerman, who runs an advocacy group called By Any Means Necessary. The debate between Taylor and Lerman begins shortly after the 2:30 point:
Affirmative action awards consideration and benefits based on protected classes rather than need. It fosters resentment and race hatred. Margaret Dayton's amendment deserves a fair hearing and passage.