Barack Obama

Nebraska and Affirmative Action


On Tuesday, Nebraska voters passed a ballot initiative barring the use of race- or gender-based affirmative action in recruiting students, faculty, and employees at state insititutions, including schools and universities. From an AP account:

The Nebraska constitutional amendment prohibits public agencies from giving preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity when hiring and performing such tasks as awarding contracts and granting scholarships.

The ban passed with almost 58 percent of the vote. A similar measure was on the ballot in Colorado, but the vote remained too close to call Thursday.

The League of Nebraska Municipalities is reviewing how the amendment might affect hundreds of local governments across the state, Executive Director Lynn Rex said. Some federal grants, such as those for affordable housing, are tied to affirmative action, she said….

"Affirmative action is something often done on the front end of the hiring process to make sure you have a job description that doesn't limit candidates, and that you have a recruitment process," [Southeast Community College President Jose J.] Soto said. "Ninety percent of affirmative action has nothing to do with … using race or gender to make a hiring decision. It's to provide open access to opportunities."

More here.

The proposition is being challenged in court, on the grounds that the signatures collected to put in on the ballot were fraudulent. The prop was spearheaded by Ward Connerly, the University of California regent behind the successful attempt to stop race-based set-asides in California's public sector more than a decade ago. How will affirmative action and other forms of preference, which have (I think) declined as a hot-button issue over the years, fare in Obama's America?

reason interviewed Ward Connerly in 1998. It's a very interesting, very relevant, conversation and is online here.

In the November issue of reason, Michael C. Moynihan reviews two new books on race and argues that "Barack Obama's 'post-racial' posture reflects a quiet but radical shift in liberal ideas about race in America."