Affirmative Action and Proposition 16
Frequently Asked Questions


Polling indicates many voters are still undecided about Proposition 16. This resource covers who will be impacted by the measure and how it will influence education, employment, and other areas of life.

California Competes does not take positions on ballot measures. We have created this nonpartisan guide to answer critical questions about Prop 16.




Affirmative action, spurred by former presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, refers to a set of policies that encouraged governments and institutions to take proactive measures to increase the proportion of historically disadvantaged groups. These policies aimed to increase representation of minorities and women in areas of employment, education, and culture, from which they’ve been previously excluded. Prop 16 would repeal California’s current ban on affirmative action (enacted by Prop 209 in 1996).


Prop 209, which was enacted as a California constitutional amendment on November 5, 1996, reinforced the illegality of discrimination (which remains illegal under the 14th amendment1) and stated that the state cannot grant preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, and public contracting. By doing so, California joined what would eventually be eight other states in banning the use of affirmative action.2

States that have banned the use of affirmative action

Prop 16, introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, is a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would repeal Prop 209 while still upholding the 14th amendment. Therefore, if passed, Prop 16 would restore affirmative action and allow for the use of race-based policies that promote diversity in public education, public employment, and public contracting without illegally discriminating. The proposition is intended to encourage fair, proactive hiring practices to improve the participation of minority groups without enacting a quota system, which has been unconstitutional since 1978.4


1. Government Publishing Office. Fourteenth Amendment. https://www.govinfo.gov/conten...

2. Proposition 209 Prohibition Against Discrimination or Preferential Treatment by State and Other Public Entities. (1996, November). https://lao.ca.gov/ballot/1996...

3. Affirmative Action. https://ballotpedia.org/Affirm...

4. Powell, L. F. & Supreme Court Of The United States. (1977) U.S. Reports: University of California Regents v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265. [Periodical] Library of Congress, https://tile.loc.gov/storage-s...
.


Yes, a series of court decisionsi have placed limits on how affirmative action can be used. Prop 209 went further than court decisions to ban affirmative action programs and policies for all California public education, hiring, and contracting. If Prop 16 were to pass, public education, hiring, and contracting would once again be able to use affirmative action programs within the constraints of court decisions. These court decisions generally allow targeted outreach and policies that specifically focus on advancing equity for groups that have historically faced discrimination, such as through the segregation of schools and redlining.1


i. The key U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding affirmative action in higher education admissions were Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), Gratz v. Bollinger (2003), Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), Fisher v. University of Texas I (2013), and Fisher v. University of Texas II (2015). Most recently, a federal court permitted affirmative action in private university admissions in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard (2019). At the time of this writing, the case was being appealed.

1. Holzer H., & Neumark D. (2005). Affirmative action: What do we know? Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/50186/1000862-Affirmative-Action.PDF


No, because quotas are illegal.1

On June 18, 1978, the United States Supreme Court declared the use of affirmative action constitutional and declared the use of quotas to be unconstitutional in the case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.2 Thus admissions, hiring, and contracting practices are not allowed to use quotas as a mechanism to increase diversity. Instead, affirmative action was intended to encourage governments and institutions to fundamentally revise their practices to be more equitable so they could comply with the nondiscrimination mandate of the Civil Rights Act.3


1. Powell, L. F. & Supreme Court Of The United States. (1977) U.S. Reports: University of California Regents v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265. [Periodical] Library of Congress, https://tile.loc.gov/storage-s...

2. Powell, L. F. & Supreme Court Of The United States. (1977) U.S. Reports: University of California Regents v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265. [Periodical] Library of Congress, https://tile.loc.gov/storage-s...

3. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2001). Affirmative action. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/affirmative-action/


Yes, United States Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of affirmative action believed affirmative action should be a temporary measure to address racism. However, the intended outcome of achieving equity for underrepresented groups is still unfinished.

In the landmark case Barbara Grutter, Petitioner v. Lee Bollinger, where a white woman was denied admission into University of Michigan Law School, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the school’s use of affirmative action as constitutional. Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, who voted in support of the school, both agreed that race-conscious policies must have a logical end point. During this case, the Court observed that while it had been 25 years since the use of affirmative action to increase diversity in public education was upheld in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the law could not fairly be described as “settled,” as it was practiced differently across the nation. Therefore, while Ginsburg hoped that affirmative action should eventually sunset, the intended outcome of advancing equity for traditionally underserved communities has not been achieved consistently across the nation since the desegregation of public schools less than 70 years ago.1


1. Powell, L. F. & Supreme Court Of The United States. (1977) U.S. Reports: University of California Regents v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265. [Periodical] Library of Congress, https://tile.loc.gov/storage-s...


Not as well. Campuses have attempted to increase diversity without explicit race-based policies, but have not seen the same level of success post Prop 209.

Though campuses have attempted to increase racial diversity after Prop 209, enrollment rates have not mirrored the success of enrollment rates when affirmative action was allowed.1 For example, University of California institutions expanded admissions eligibility by offering admission to a UC campus to the top 4 percent of graduates of each high school.2 However, even with these attempts, Black student enrollment across the UC system—which was at 5 percent during affirmative action—dipped to 3 percent after Prop 209 and has not gone above 4 percent since.3 Race-neutral efforts have not been able to achieve the same outcomes as race-conscious efforts.4


1. Bleemer, Z. The impact of Proposition 209 and access-oriented UC admissions policies on underrepresented UC applications, enrollment, and long-run student outcomes. University of California Office of the President. https://www.ucop.edu/institutional-research-academic-planning/_files/uc-affirmative-action.pdf

2. Blume, G., & Long, M. (2015). Changes in Levels of Affirmative Action in College Admissions in Response to Statewide Bans and Judicial Rulings. SAGE Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.3102/0162373713508810

3. Gordon, L. (2020). California universities prepare for possible return of affirmative action in admissions. Ed Source Highlighting Strategies for Student Success. https://edsource.org/2020/california-universities-prepare-for-possible-return-of-affirmative-action-in-admissions/634178

4. Bleemer, Z. The impact of Proposition 209 and access-oriented UC admissions policies on underrepresented UC applications, enrollment, and long-run student outcomes. University of California Office of the President. https://www.ucop.edu/institutional-research-academic-planning/_files/uc-affirmative-action.pdf


Diversity in education and the workforce has been shown to increase productivity, efficiency, and enhance a company’s ability to serve a diverse clientele.1 Bringing together people with varied skills and backgrounds broadens perspectives and brings in new ideas and opinions.2 In the absence of affirmative action, existing diversity policies and strategies are largely ineffective, especially for Black workers.3

Beyond increasing productivity and broadening perspectives, workplace diversity increases the likelihood of employees from minority backgrounds working in environments conducive to productivity. Minority workers are more likely to experience discrimination and other negative outcomes more frequently in homogenous workplaces.4 “The subtle and diffused nature of discrimination can manifest itself in decisions or conditions that produce unequal outcomes even while adhering to formal equality of treatment.”5

These negative work experiences can undermine psychological well-being. Underrepresented workers can also experience disproportionate workload due to being, for example, the only faculty member of an ethnic minority group in a department.6 Some universities expect underrepresented minority faculty to serve on diversity committees, act as mentors, and represent their social group on panels and events.7 Furthermore, a lack of mentoring can decrease self efficacy. Without explicit policies, organizations may also pressure female-identifying workers into traditional gender roles, not allowing flexibility for child rearing, consequently undermining career tracks.8


1. Kamal, Y., Ferdousi, M., (2011). Managing Diversity at Workplace: A Case Study of Hp. SSRN. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1944511

2. Carey, J., Carman, K., Clayton, K., Horiuchi, Y., Htun., M., & Ortiz, B., (2017). Who wants to hire a more diverse faculty? A conjoint analysis of faculty and student preferences for gender and racial/ethnic diversity. SSRN. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2995171

3. Shah, H.(2019). Radical Reconstruction: (Re) embracing affirmative action in private employment. University of Baltimore Law Review. https://scholarworks.law.ubalt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2048&context=ublr

4. Blackwell, L., Snyder, L., & Mavriplis, C. Diverse faculty in STEM fields: Attitudes, performance, and fair treatment. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9a28/c3cb4bf09284d3c1ab978bc196e61d0712e6.pdf

5. Shah, H.(2019). Radical Reconstruction: (Re) embracing affirmative action in private employment. University of Baltimore Law Review. https://scholarworks.law.ubalt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2048&context=ublr

6. Blackwell, L., Snyder, L., & Mavriplis, C. Diverse faculty in STEM fields: Attitudes, performance, and fair treatment. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9a28/c3cb4bf09284d3c1ab978bc196e61d0712e6.pdf

7. Carey, J., Carman, K., Clayton, K., Horiuchi, Y., Htun., M., & Ortiz, B., (2017). Who wants to hire a more diverse faculty? A conjoint analysis of faculty and student preferences for gender and racial/ethnic diversity. SSRN. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2995171

8. Blackwell, L., Snyder, L., & Mavriplis, C. Diverse faculty in STEM fields: Attitudes, performance, and fair treatment. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9a28/c3cb4bf09284d3c1ab978bc196e61d0712e6.pdf


This list is updated as of October 14, 2020, however it changes daily.

Below are only some of the supporters of Prop 16 broken down into current and former elected officials, prominent leaders, union groups, and other organizations.

For a more updated comprehensive list of supporters of Prop 16, visit: https://voteyesonprop16.org/endorsements/.

Public Officials

NameParty AffiliationRole or Title
Dianne FeinsteinDemocrat

U.S. Senator

Kamala D. HarrisDemocratU.S. Senator
Nanette BarragánDemocratU.S. Representative
Karen BassDemocratU.S. Representative
Ami BeraDemocratU.S. Representative
Julia BrownleyDemocratU.S. Representative
TJ CoxDemocratU.S. Representative
Mark DeSaulnierDemocratU.S. Representative
Anna EshooDemocratU.S. Representative
Jimmy GomezDemocratU.S. Representative
Jared HuffmanDemocratU.S. Representative
Ro KhannaDemocratU.S. Representative
Barbara LeeDemocratU.S. Representative
Ted LieuDemocratU.S. Representative
Alan LowenthalDemocratU.S. Representative
Doris MatsuiDemocratU.S. Representative
Jerry McNerneyDemocratU.S. Representative
Grace NapolitanoDemocratU.S. Representative
Nancy PelosiDemocratU.S. Representative
Katie PorterDemocratU.S. Representative
Lucille Roybal-AllardDemocratU.S. Representative
Raul RuizDemocratU.S. Representative
Brad ShermanDemocratU.S. Representative
Jackie SpeierDemocratU.S. Representative
Eric SwalwellDemocratU.S. Representative
Linda SánchezDemocratU.S. Representative
Mark TakanoDemocratU.S. Representative
Juan VargasDemocratU.S. Representative
Maxine WatersDemocratU.S. Representative
Gavin NewsomDemocratGovernor
Steven BradfordDemocratState Senator
Richard PanDemocratState Senator
Scott WienerDemocratState Senator
Lorena Gonzalez FletcherDemocratAssemblymember
Miguel SantiagoDemocratAssemblymember
Shirley WeberDemocratAssemblymember
Buffy WicksDemocratAssemblymember
Kevin FaulconerNonpartisanSan Diego Mayor
Robert GarciaNonpartisanLong Beach Mayor
London BreedNonpartisanSan Francisco Mayor
Eric GarcettiDemocratLos Angeles Mayor
Libby SchaafNonpartisanOakland Mayor
Michael TubbsNonpartisanStockton Mayor
Eleni KounalakisDemocratLieutenant Governor
Alex PadillaDemocratSecretary of State
Tony ThurmondNonpartisanState Superintendent of Public Instruction
Betty YeeDemocratState Controller

Former Officials

NameParty AffiliationRole or Title
Barbara BoxerDemocratFormer U.S. Senator
Pete ButtigiegDemocratFormer South Bend, Indiana, Mayor
Mike HondaDemocratFormer U.S. Representative
Kevin de LeónDemocratFormer State Senate President

Prominent Individuals

NamePolitical AffiliationRole or Title
Dolores HuertaCo-Founder of the United Farm Workers
Bernice KingPresident of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Tom SteyerFounder of NextGen America
Patrisse CullorsCo-Founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Political Parties

  • California Democratic Party

Government Entities

  • Monterey County Board of Supervisors
  • Los Angeles County Board of Education
  • San Jose City Council
  • University of California Board of Regents

Unions

  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) California
  • California Federation of Teachers
  • California Labor Federation
  • California Nurses Association
  • California Teachers Association
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California State Council

Corporations

  • Kaiser Permanente
  • PG&E Corporation

Organizations

  • ACLU of California
  • ACLU of Northern California
  • Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
  • American Beverage Association
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus
  • California Black Chamber of Commerce
  • California Business Roundtable
  • California Chamber of Commerce
  • California Charter Schools Association
  • California EDGE Coalition
  • California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
  • California NAACP State Conference
  • California State Association of Counties
  • California State Student Association
  • Campaign for College Opportunity
  • Chinese for Affirmative Action
  • Education Trust-West
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Equality California
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • NextGen California
  • The Institute for College Access & Success

Vote Yes on Prop 16. Endorsements (2020). https://voteyesonprop16.org/en...


This list is updated as of October 14, 2020, however it changes daily.

Below are only some of the opponents of Prop 16 broken down into elected officials (past and present), prominent leaders, union groups, and various organizations. For a more updated comprehensive list of opponents of Prop 16, visit: https://californiansforequalrights.org/endorsements/.

Public Officials

NameParty or Affiliation

Role or Title

Ling Ling ChangRepublicanState Senator
Melissa MelendezRepublicanState Senator

Former Officials

NameParty or AffiliationRole or Title
Tom CampbellRepublicanFormer U.S. Representative
Bob HuffRepublicanFormer Senate Minority Leader
Darrell IssaRepublicanFormer U.S. Representative

Political Parties

  • Republican Party of California

Prominent Individuals

  • Ward Connerly - Chairperson of the campaign behind California Proposition 209 (1996)

Organizations

  • American Civil Rights Institute
  • American Freedom Alliance
  • Association for Education Fairness
  • Chinese American Civic Action Alliance
  • Students for Fair Admissions, Inc.


Californians for Equal Rights. Endorsements for "No on Prop 16 campaign" (2020).
https://californiansforequalri...




Since only colleges and universities within the scope of Prop 16 are the state’s three public higher education segments and most public colleges and universities admit all students who meet minimum eligibility requirements, Prop 16 would likely not impact most students’ college admissions. Students applying to competitive University of California (UC) institutions, like the University of California, Berkeley, are most likely to be affected by Prop 16 due to changes in admissions. After the passage of Prop 209, the number of underrepresented minority (URMi) students decreased by 800 students per year across the UC system.1 Admissions into the California State University (CSU) and the California Community Colleges (CCC) will likely be unaffected by Prop 16, though admissions at the CSU may be impacted due to a lack of seats. See below for further discussion of the impact of affirmative action and its ban on college admissions.

University of California

When affirmative action was in place prior to Prop 209, URM students were more likely to enroll in selective UC campuses. After Prop 209, more URM students enrolled in less selective campuses with thousands of qualified URM students not applying to selective public universities at all.2

More specifically, after Prop 209 took effect, the UC system saw an 8 percent decline in enrollment for URM students.3The impact differed by campus with more selective campuses seeing greater declines in URM enrollment. In the five years after Prop 209, URM enrollments decreased by 45 percent at the University of California, Los Angeles and 42 percent at UC Berkeley.5 Whereas, the University of California, Riverside, a less selective UC campus that admitted all UC-eligible applicants, saw URM enrollments decline by 4 percent.6

Non-URM students were largely unaffected by Prop 209. Those who were rejected from a competitive UC typically ended up attending some other college of similar quality.7

California State University

Given CSU’s broad access mission, CSU applicants will likely not be largely unaffected by Prop 16.9

California Community Colleges

There will be no difference in admissions policies for the California Community Colleges, the state’s open access institutions, if Prop 16 were to be enacted.

Private Institutions

Private colleges and universities are not within the scope of Prop 16 or Prop 209. As such, they may continue their admissions practices as they see fit. However, there may be spillover effects. Without Prop 16, private colleges may be able to enroll more URM students, as minority applicants may have fewer offers from selective public colleges because of Prop 209.10


i. URM includes Black, Latinx, and Native American or Alaska Native students.

1. Bleemer, Z. (2020).Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

2. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

3. Bleemer, Z. The impact of Proposition 209 and access-oriented UC admissions policies on underrepresented UC applications, enrollment, and long-run student outcomes. University of California Office of the President. https://www.ucop.edu/institutional-research-academic-planning/_files/uc-affirmative-action.pdf

4. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

5. California Senate Select Committee on College and University Admissions and Outreach. (2002). Increasing access and promoting excellence: Diversity in California Public Higher Education (Rep.). California Senate Office of Research. https://sor.senate.ca.gov/sites/sor.senate.ca.gov/files/Increasing%20Access%20and%20Promoting%20Excellence%20Diversity%20in%20California%20Public%20Higher%20Education.pdf

6. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

7. Bleemer, Z. The impact of Proposition 209 and access-oriented UC admissions policies on underrepresented UC applications, enrollment, and long-run student outcomes. University of California Office of the President. https://www.ucop.edu/instituti...

8. California Senate Select Committee on College and University Admissions and Outreach. (2002). Increasing access and promoting excellence: Diversity in California Public Higher Education (Rep.). California Senate Office of Research. https://sor.senate.ca.gov/sites/sor.senate.ca.gov/files/Increasing%20Access%20and%20Promoting%20Excellence%20Diversity%20in%20California%20Public%20Higher%20Education.pdf

9. California Senate Select Committee on College and University Admissions and Outreach. (2002). Increasing access and promoting excellence: Diversity in California Public Higher Education (Rep.). California Senate Office of Research. https://sor.senate.ca.gov/sites/sor.senate.ca.gov/files/Increasing%20Access%20and%20Promoting%20Excellence%20Diversity%20in%20California%20Public%20Higher%20Education.pdf

10. Blume, G., & Long, M. (2015). Changes in Levels of Affirmative Action in College Admissions in Response to Statewide Bans and Judicial Rulings. SAGE Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.3102/0162373713508810


Medium-term Effects: After Prop 209, 10,000 URM students annually applied to less selective public and private institutions, and thousands of qualified URM students did not apply to any UC campus. Degree attainment by URM students declined overall and also in STEM fields.1

Long-term Effects: Prior to Prop 209, black students had higher levels of education attainment and Hispanic youth saw large long-run wage gains, this was particularly true for lower-income Hispanic youths. After the implementation of Prop 209, URM students saw a steep decline in wage outcomes while Asian and non-URM students saw little to no change before or after the implementation of Prop 209.4

URM students “received substantially above-average wage returns to more-selective university enrollment under affirmative action, and thus faced disproportionate declines after Prop 209.” After Prop 209, URM students’ wages decreased by 5 percent between ages 23 and 35 due to lower persistence in STEM, lower degree attainment, and URM students attending less-selective universities. Given UC’s impact on the labor market, and the decreasing number of URM students attending competitive UCs after Prop 209, the number of early-30 Black and Latinx Californians earning over $100,000 declined by 3-6 percent.5


1. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

2. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

3. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

4. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf

5. Bleemer, Z. (2020). Affirmative action, mismatch, and economic mobility after California’s proposition 209. Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. https://cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/rops.cshe.10.2020.bleemer.prop209.8.20.2020_2.pdf



Research indicates the opposite is true—students admitted while affirmative action policies and programs were in effect had better outcomes. URM students admitted to competitive universities under affirmative action had higher graduation rates and later salaries. URM students admitted to competitive universities under affirmative action had higher graduation rates and later salaries.1 After Prop 209 banned affirmative action, UC Berkeley’s URM students’ persistence in STEM fields decreased significantly.2


1. Bleemer, Z. The impact of Proposition 209 and access-oriented UC admissions policies on underrepresented UC applications, enrollment, and long-run student outcomes. University of California Office of the President. https://www.ucop.edu/institutional-research-academic-planning/_files/uc-affirmative-action.pdf

2. Holzer H., & Neumark D. (2005). Affirmative action: What do we know? Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/50186/1000862-Affirmative-Action.PDF


Prop 16 would provide public higher education systems the ability to use race in reforming retention, scholarship, and transfer pathways to increase access and completion for underrepresented minority (URM) students.

For example, Loren Blanchard, the executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the California State University, noted that Prop 16 would allow the CSU system to rethink how they offer retention and scholarship programs.1 Furthermore, race-based efforts to improve transfer and completion in community colleges were stopped after Prop 209 as they were considered “not appropriate under the law,” leading to much more generalized programs that were not able to address the specific needs of URM students.2


1. Smith, A. (2020). CSU trustees endorse repeal of affirmative action ban. Ed Source Highlighting Strategies for Student Success. https://edsource.org/2020/csu-trustees-endorse-repeal-of-affirmative-action-ban/640467

2. Felix, E., Trinidad, A., & Estrada, C. (2020). The opportunity for race-conscious policy and a more equitable California. Ed Trust West. https://west.edtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Ed-Trust-West-Reserch-in-Brief-Prop-16-9_29_2020.pdf


Prop 209 limited institutions’ ability to conduct targeted outreach to increase faculty diversity.1 Prop 16 would allow the institutions to use race-conscious practices and processes in recruiting and selecting employees, including faculty.

Currently, 71 percent of K-12 students are students of color and 29 percent of K-12 teachers are teachers of color.2 In public higher education, a majority of students are students of color3 and one-third of faculty and leadership in public higher education were people of color.4



1. University of California (2016). Guidelines for enhancing diversity at UC in the context of proposition 209. https://diversity.universityofcalifornia.edu/files/documents/prop-209-summary.pdf

2. U.S. Department of Education. (2016). The state of racial diversity in the educator workforce. https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/highered/racial-diversity/state-racial-diversity-workforce.pdf

3. California Competes (2020). California postsecondary to prosperity dashboard. https://californiacompetes.org...

4. The Campaign for College Opportunity. (2018). Left out: how exclusion in California’s colleges and universities hurts our values, our students, and our economy. https://collegecampaign.org/po...

5. The Campaign for College Opportunity. (2018). Left out: how exclusion in California’s colleges and universities hurts our values, our students, and our economy. https://collegecampaign.org/po...




Recent research shows “a sharp drop in employment after the passage of Prop 209, which resulted in minorities leaving the labor force.” Between 1995-1999, employment for URM workers fell by 2.8 percentage points. Consequently, labor force non-participation rates rose by “2.9 percentage points for white women, 4.6 percentage points for black women, 5.2 percentage points for Hispanic women, 1.4 percentage points for Hispanic men, and 6.8 percentage points for other men.”1 It is also important to note affirmative action did not mean lower employment for white Californians, rather white male employment was redistributed to sectors that did not take part in affirmative action.2


1. Myers, C. (2016). Cure for discrimination? Affirmative action and the case of California’s proposition 209. SAGE Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/d...

2. Holzer H., & Neumark D. (2005). Affirmative action: What do we know? Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/50186/1000862-Affirmative-Action.PDF


The private sector is not within the scope of Prop 16. However, diversity in the private sector decreased after Prop 209. This suggests that a statewide chilling effect may have occurred in employment, as it did in contracting, in which equal opportunity was devalued and decision makers may have been fearful to take race, ethnicity, or sex into consideration in order to remedy discrimination.”1


1. The Henderson Center for Social Justice (2012). https://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/thcsj/EOTheEvidenceCalifornia.pdf




Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (WBEs) stand to earn more public contracts due to the passage of Prop 16.1 By 1998, after affirmative action was banned in state contracting, awards to MBEs and WBEs declined from 20 percent to less than 10 percent, and have not recovered since. MBEs and WBEs lost one billion per year in potential contract dollars annually after Prop 209 passed.2

Additionally, Prop 209 deterred prime contracting companies, which assign and oversee contractors, from working with MBEs, which led to downsizing and unemployment, impacting these firms’ ability to compete.

Prop 209 made outreach that only targeted MBEs and WBEs unconstitutional, along with contracts that explicitly awarded bids to those who reached a targeted goal of MBEs and WBEs. MBEs that did not have preexisting strong relationships with prime contractors suffered, while those who did have preexisting strong relationships were relatively unimpacted by Prop 209.3 Though federally-funded programs (like CalTrans’ race-conscious program) were not impacted, Prop 209 contributed to an atmosphere where low federal diversity goals and attainment became acceptable.4


1. Holzer H., & Neumark D. (2005). Affirmative action: What do we know? Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/50186/1000862-Affirmative-Action.PDF

2. Lohrentz, T. (2015). The impact of proposition 209 on California’s MWBEs. https://equaljusticesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/ejs-impact-prop-209-mwbes.pdf

3. Morris, M., Thanasombat, S., Summer, M., Pierre, S., & Borja, J., (2006). Free to compete? Measuring the impact of proposition 209 on Minority Business Enterprises.

4. Clark, T. Affirmative outreach and data collection: Limits (real and imagined) on public contracting since proposition 209 hearing background paper. https://ajud.assembly.ca.gov/s...