Earlier this week, Assembly Speaker John Perez pulled Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 from the Assembly at the request of its author, Sen. Ed Hernandez. SCA 5 would basically overturn Prop. 209’s ban on discrimination in public education; per the bill’s text:
The California Constitution prohibits the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
This measure would eliminate this prohibition on state discrimination or preference in the operation of public education.
The Left has always loathed Prop. 209’s elimination of racial preference in government, and longs for its abolition. The list of SCA 5 supporters is a roll-call of liberal interest groups.
As this Daily Kos post elucidates, this latent desire – currently expressed in SCA5 – puts California Democrats at odds with Asian-American voters because its adoption would punish their educationally over-achieving children by artificially restricting their access to top-tier UC campuses.
Perez’s shelving of SCA 5 was a political move driven by panic in the ranks Democratic legislators of Asian-American and those with significant Asian-American constituencies like Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva – whose AD65 (which includes a large chunk of West Anaheim) has a sizable number of Asian-American voters. She’s also facing an Asian-American Republican opponent in Young Kim, who was poised to make SCA 5 an issue in the campaign.
“I’m opposed to the fact that SCA 5 will allow discrimination in the contracting and admissions process to our schools,” said Young Kim. “This is against the basic fundamental rights we have as Americans and that is why I’m opposed to this proposal. If anything, preferential treatment should be given to hardworking students based on merit”
Kim’s strong opposition stands in stark contrast to Quirk-Silva’s tepid statement:
Diversity on college campuses is essential. However, we must do everything we can do to make sure we have high standards and a fair process. SCA 5 raises important questions that need to be addressed, but I cannot support SCA 5 at this time. [emphasis added].
Notice the escape-hatch qualifier “at this time” tacked on to the end – a political Bat-Signal to liberal special interests that she can be more flexible after the election.
Perez’s decision to put SCA 5 on ice for the time being has got to be a relief to Quirk-Silva. While she would have nominally opposed this retrograde measure, it would have been impossible for her to match the intensity Kim’s opposition – a contrast that would have been played up to Asian-American voters in AD65 via mail, social media and the ethnic press.