Prop. 209 Injunction

The repudiation of Prop. 209 by the Clinton administration and the injunction in federal court (Dec. 24) were the best holiday gifts our leaders could have devised for the nation, for civil rights and for the Constitution. The executive and the judicial branches have finally sided with organizations like ours in concluding that Prop. 209 is both misleading and wrong. They determined that it would have the exact opposite effect from what voters had envisioned, and would deny most Californians equal protection of the laws.



San Diego La Raza Lawyers Assn.


* The strangling of Props. 187 and 209 by judicial opinion should not come as much of a surprise. Decades ago, Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Hughes demolished both the sanctity of the Constitution and the justices entrusted with its interpretation.

Stated the blunt and unguarded Hughes: “We are under a Constitution but the Constitution means what a judge says it means.” In these intervening decades, Supreme Court decisions, as well as those of other federal judges, are often based on political opinion rather than the legal dimension of the subject under consideration.

Both Props. 187 and 209 are reasonable in concept. The voters of California considered both proposals of vital importance and voted overwhelmingly in favor of adoption. However, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson must have had a copy of the Hughes manifesto questioning the infallibility of the Constitution in hand and decided to follow the doctrine it contained.