After Affirmative Action: Life under an Executive Order Suggests the Future of Affirmative Action in a Post-CCRI California

By Lynch, Michael | Reason, November 1996 | Go to article overview

After Affirmative Action: Life under an Executive Order Suggests the Future of Affirmative Action in a Post-CCRI California


Lynch, Michael, Reason


Last year, in a speech that defied political gravity, President Bill Clinton threw his support behind affirmative action while coining the phrase "mend it, don't end it." Clinton's mini-couplet quickly became the mantra of those seeking to maintain the affirmative action status quo. In California, where voters will decide the future of the state's racial and gender preferences in November, opponents of the California Civil Rights Initiative have picked up on Clinton's rhetorical waffle, charging that the initiative is too blunt an instrument with which to fix the delicate apparatus of affirmative action. These programs, we are told, must be left to nimble-handed professionals, whether they be bureaucrats or lawyers.

In fact, the only hope of mending affirmative action lies in just such broad instruments as the CCRI, which tie the hands of those who would use the government to grant privileges based on race and gender. Recent reforms in the affirmative action programs in the California State Civil Service illustrate why. They also provide a template of how city and county governments in a post-CCRI California can craft programs that, while expanding opportunity, neither grant preferential treatment nor discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or sex.

Taking Executive Action

On June 1, 1996, California Gov. Pete Wilson made the first effort by any elected politician to fix affirmative action, by issuing Executive Order W-124-95. Wilson's executive order mandated that agencies and departments "eliminate all preferential treatment requirements that exceed federal or statutory law" and set goals and timetables, which are required by statutory law, based on "the employment pool possessing the necessary qualifications for the particular job classification at issue, rather than on general work force parity."

Wilson's attempt to modify the program canoe a quarter century into the state's affirmative action effort. In 1971, Gov. Ronald Reagan issued an executive order stating that "justice demands that every citizen consciously adopt and accentuate a personal commitment to affirmative action which will make equal opportunity a reality." In 1977, the legislature mandated that each agency and department set up an affirmative action program and "establish goals and timetables designed to overcome any identified underutilization of minorities and women in their respective workforces." The State Personnel Board was charged with overseeing the affirmative action programs.

Wilson, with the stroke of a pen, achieved what the personnel board professionals had long been unable to accomplish in the face of interest-group politics: His executive order forced the state to create an affirmative action program that, at least on paper, is based on expanding opportunity, not granting preferences.

Wilson's order had two major effects. First, although Wilson lacked the power to abolish affirmative action goals and timetables by executive action, the order mandated that state agencies conform to federal law by using "relevant labor force" data to set such goals. This meant that if the state was hiring lawyers, the benchmark labor pool would be only the people who had actually passed the state bar. Likewise, only the composition of those in the private-sector work force with a college degree could be used to determine whether minorities and women were underrepresented in state jobs that required similar credentials. Second, the order prohibited agencies and departments from using the goals and timetables to grant preferential treatment to individuals in the hiring process.

The significance of Wilson's reforms shouldn't be obscured by the welter of bureaucratic jargon: It is perhaps best demonstrated by the ferocity with which the changes were resisted.

In the late 1980s, a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions restricted the ability of state and local governments to justify their affirmative action programs based on statistical disparities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

After Affirmative Action: Life under an Executive Order Suggests the Future of Affirmative Action in a Post-CCRI California
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.