The Corner

Politics & Policy

A License to Discriminate

Washington State Capitol building in Olympia (Pixabay)

Progressives in the state of Washington are determined to discriminate on the basis of identity.

More than twenty years ago, voters in that state passed an initiative to prohibit the state government from discriminating on the basis of immutable characteristics. The voters’ command was simple:

The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

The fact that the state needed to pass the initiative nearly 130 years after ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment and nearly three decades after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is depressing enough. But when it comes to discrimination, progressives refuse to take “no” for an answer. Identity politics is their core. And discrimination is integral to politics tied to identity.

So Washington progressives have come up with Initiative 1000. Initiative 1000 purports to prohibit discrimination. But it’s a scam. It does precisely the opposite. The key discriminatory provisions are as follows:

(9) Nothing in this section prohibits the state from implementing affirmative action laws, regulations, policies, or procedures such as participation goals or outreach efforts that do not utilize quotas and that do not constitute preferential treatment as defined in this section .

(11)c “Affirmative action” means a policy in which an individual’s race, sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, and honorably discharged veteran or military status are factors considered in the selection of qualified women, honorably discharged military veterans, persons in protected age categories, persons with disabilities, and minorities for opportunities in public education, public employment, and public contracting. Affirmative action includes, but shall not be limited to, recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, outreach, setting and achieving goals and timetables, and other measures designed to increase Washington’s diversity in public education, public employment, and public contracting . . . (emphasis added)

This is a license for the state and/or any city, county, public college, school district, or other governmental agency to discriminate until the cows come home — provided, of course, it’s “good” discrimination — as defined by progressives; “good” discrimination, such as that engaged in by Harvard (and many other colleges), which subjects Asian and white applicants to far higher standards than similarly situated black and Hispanic applicants.

Washington progressives would’ve rammed discrimination into law were it not for Washington Asians for Equality, a tiny, underfunded, outgunned group of warriors which nonetheless succeeded in getting the Initiative put to a vote in November in the form of Referendum 88.

Initiative 1000’s being sold as righteous, fair, and good. In truth, it’s a social engineering abomination that violates equal treatment under law.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.