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Ballot Measure To Overturn State Ban On Affirmative Action Moves Forward

Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, gives her support for ACA 5 before Wednesday's vote. (Screen shot from California Legislature live stream)
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California voters will be asked to scrap the state’s 24-year old ban on affirmative action at the ballot box in November.

The state Senate today ratified Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA5) in time to get it before voters in the Nov. 3 election. ACA 5 would allow for consideration of race and gender in public education and public hiring and contracting by overturning Proposition 209, which was passed by voters in 1996.

"We've seen enough," said Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena. "It's time to do the right thing. It's time to end the racism that exists in California."

Diamond Bar Republican Sen. Ling Ling Chang said that ACA 5 amounted to legalized racism, and drew parallels with Legislature's support of the Chinese Exclusion Act which discriminated against Chinese immigrants into the 20th century.

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"The problem with ACA 5 is that it takes the position that we must fight discrimination with more discrimination," Chang said.

She referred to an anti-ACA 5 petition created by some Chinese American activists that as of Wednesday afternoon had drawn nearly 132,000 signatures.

Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, countered that now many more millions of people than those who signed the petition would have a chance to weigh in on affirmative action.

The amendment needed a two-thirds vote to pass. It got 30 votes — or three-quarters — with Jim Wilk a Santa Clarita Republican, crossing party lines to vote in support.

The measure, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, passed the Legislature's lower body on June 10.