Proposition 209 On Hold -- Affirmative Action Continues in California
Implementation of Proposition 209, the amendment to the California constitution that prohibits affirmative action in public employment, education, and contracting, has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. Chief U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson issued a temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit against Proposition 209 brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
Judge Henderson, a former Justice Department civil rights prosecutor, has said there is a "strong probability" that Prop 209 will be proven unconstitutional at a trial and be struck down permanently. The temporary restraining order blocks the state of California from implementing the new amendment at least until a scheduled hearing on December 16, at which point Judge Henderson could issue a permanent injunction to prevent implementation of Prop 209 until a trial is held.
The ACLU lawsuit argues that Proposition 209 is unconstitutional because it singles out women and minorities as groups that cannot benefit from affirmative action to remedy past discrimination. Other groups such as the disabled and veterans are not affected by Proposition 209.
The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution "not only prohibits the outright exclusion of women and minorities from the political process, but also prohibits more subtle distortions of the political process that place special burdens on the ability of women and minorities to achieve beneficial legislation," wrote Judge Henderson in his temporary restraining order.
Media Resources: The Washington Post -- November 28, 1996; The New York Times -- December 1, 1996; Judge Henderson's Temporary Restraining Order -- November 27, 1996
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .