The issue of governmentally imposed racial preferences has been raised in Arizona in the context of a proposed voter initiative to ban discrimination in public education, employment, and contracts. Following similar initiatives that voters overwhelmingly approved in California, Washington State, and Michigan, anti-racial preference activist Ward Connerly is collecting signatures to place the issue on the November 2008 Arizona statewide ballot as part of a Super Tuesday in which such measures will appear on the ballots in five states. If enacted, the initiative will amend the Arizona Constitution to completely forbid such preferences, making state law more restrictive than the federal Constitution, which has been construed to forbid most but not all racial classifications.
Appropriately, the question has been raised whether the initiative is a solution in search of a problem. This paper documents more than three dozen such classifications in Arizona government programs at the state, local, and university levels. Given that governmental entities are rarely candid about whether and the extent to which they confer preferences on the basis of race, color, or sex, the fact that three dozen visible programs were easily discovered suggests that the programs identified in this paper may represent only the tip of the Arizona preference iceberg. The range of programs makes clear that such preferences exist in numerous public institutions at every level of Arizona government. That factual predicate sets the stage for a vitally important public debate over whether Arizona governments should take such factors into account in allocating opportunities in public education, employment, and contracting.
Read Dividing Line: Racial Preferences in Arizona here.