President Clinton's Press Secretary, Mike McCurry, announced on December 20th that the Department of Justice will intervene on behalf of opponents of the anti-affirmative action California Proposition 209. McCurry said that the President, who strongly opposes Prop 209, and lawyers for the Department of Justice examined the Constitutional issues involved in the proposition thoroughly before deciding to intervene. The department now contends, along with opponents of the Prop 209, who have brought suit against it, that it denies women and people of color opportunities available to other groups, such as veterans. The department is basing its case mainly on a 1982 Supreme Court ruling in Washington vs. Seattle School District in which the Court struck down a local ordinance limiting school busing. The Court ruled that the ordinance made it harder for African-Americans to petition the government for remedies against discrimination. Though the President opposed Prop 209, he did not want to act against the voters of California unless he had a Constitutionally sound basis; McCurry said, "the president as the chief constitutional officer has to act."
Media Resources: The Associated Press - December 20, 1996