Abolishing Affirmative Action


In the 1990s, several states moved to abolish affirmative action programs. California voted in 1996 to abolish affirmative action, and Washington State voted similarly in 1998. The California ban asserts: “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant 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.” The wording of the Washington law is identical. Both laws were passed in voter referenda.

There is no question that affirmative action remains a controversial issue in the eyes of many—and that many people would like to abolish it. But it seems reasonable to say that society in general is mindful that affirmative action in some form is acceptable and in fact worthwhile. Those who either favor or oppose it strongly will likely have to accept some sort of middle ground in the future.