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California Proposition 54 (2003)

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Title: California Proposition 54 (2003)  
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Subject: California Courts of Appeal election, 1998, California Proposition 17 (1972), California Proposition 218 (1996), California Proposition 227 (1998), California Proposition 4 (1911)
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California Proposition 54 (2003)

Proposition 54 was a California ballot proposition on the October 7, 2003 gubernatorial recall election ballot. It failed to pass with 3,144,145 (36.1%) votes in favor and 5,541,314 (63.9%) against. It was placed on the ballot through the initiative process.

Proposition 54 would have amended the Constitution of California to prohibit the state government and local governments from using racial classifications in most of its business. Its official title was Racial Privacy Initiative. Supporters of the measure said it was the first step towards a "colorblind" society, while opponents felt that it would make it more difficult for the state to provide services and identify and correct racial disparities.

This issue might normally have been more contentious had it not been overshadowed by the recall election of Governor Gray Davis on the same ballot.

The question before voters was:

Should state and local governments be prohibited from classifying any person by race, ethnicity, color, or national origin? Various exemptions apply.

Official summary

  • Amends Constitution to prohibit state and local governments from using race, ethnicity, color, or national origin to classify current or prospective students, contractors or employees in public education, contracting, or employment operations. Does not prohibit classification by sex.
  • Prohibition also covers persons subject to other operations of government unless Legislature finds compelling state interest, authorizes by two-thirds of each house, and Governor approves.
  • "Classifying" defined as separating, sorting, or organizing persons or personal data. Exemptions include: medical data; law enforcement descriptions; prisoner and undercover assignments; actions maintaining federal funding.

Summary of Legislative Analyst's Estimate of Net State and Local Government Fiscal Impact:

  • The measure would not result in a significant fiscal impact on state and local governments.

External links

  • Voter Information Guide with text of Proposition 54
  • League of Women Vote's Analysis of Prop. 54
  • 'Concerned Desis Against Proposition 54' materials in the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA)
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