Published: April 28, 2014
Colorado should ban affirmative action - now, more than ever, following the U.S. Supreme Court's refreshing ruling on this very misguided policy. The court decided 6-2 that a Michigan law prohibiting the use of affirmative action in public college admissions is constitutional. Michigan's law was enacted in 2006 on a statewide ballot by a solid majority of that state's voters - 58 percent - who wisely said they wanted campus admissions policies to be colorblind. Arizona, California, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington have similar laws.
It is well past time for Colorado to join the movement.
I remember the gospel song "Oh happy day." The Supreme Court's ruling was in my opinion a happy day for America. I have long been opposed to affirmative action. I believe such programs - quotas for college admissions; special "set-asides" for government contractors; preferential treatment on the job in hiring and promotions - are not only unfair to those who lose opportunities to them, but worse, they also are detrimental to those racial and ethnic minorities who supposedly benefit from them.
Though well-intended - the idea was to give a leg up to groups that had suffered discrimination in the past - I believe affirmative action has harmed generations of young blacks. This form of reverse discrimination tells them they cannot succeed without a tilted playing field. This policy cripples the people it was supposed to help.
In 2004, my friend Ward Connerly, a businessman and former University of California Regent, wrote California's Proposition 209, which bans admission to California public colleges and universities based on race. He came to Denver and met with me and asked if I would run a bill that would ban affirmative action programs in public hiring, contracting and admissions to public colleges and universities. I told him I would be more than happy to carry such a bill.
I introduced Senate Bill 194, which then-Rep. Shawn Mitchell co-sponsored in the state House. It was defeated by one vote in the Senate by a fellow Republican - despite having signed on as a co-sponsor. While the same proposal also was narrowly defeated on the statewide Colorado ballot, attitudes are changing. I believe if we get it back on the ballot, it will pass.
Liberals, both white and black, are incensed over the Supreme Court's decision (even though one member of the court who usually votes with its liberal faction voted with the court's conservatives this time). The self-appointed leaders of the black community are of course apoplectic over this decision, but let's not forget they don't really represent all the black Americans they want you to think they do. Well-known George Mason University economist Walter Williams, who is black, once asked me, "Why is it that blacks have to have so-called leaders?" I answered I have no idea.
Al Sharpton, the notorious race baiter, led off his Politics Nation show by calling the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action a "devastating blow and a dangerous precedent." He stated that the 6-2 decision sets a dangerous precedent for protecting minorities and has wide-reaching implications for race in America. The decision has Al and the race baiters, both black and white, beside themselves knowing that there will be more states like Michigan and California. More and more states will realize the ruling has given them an opening to escape the shackles of affirmative action.
At the same time, it was refreshing to see how many commentators saw the light following the ruling. Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, called the decision "an important victory for equality." Horace Cooper, co-chair of Project 21, an organization of black conservatives, stated, "Today The Supreme Court moved us closer to the colorblind principle that Martin Luther King advocated and that is embedded in the 14th Amendment."
Now, it's Colorado's turn. Let's take action!
Ed Jones is a former state senator, El Paso County commissioner and a longtime Republican activist in Colorado Springs. Ed's on KVOR-AM 740 radio in Colorado Springs. Learn more about him at www.theedjones.com.