Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation today that would have allowed the University of California and California State University systems to consider race, ethnicity and gender in student admissions.
The interpretation of Proposition 209, which prohibits the use of race- or gender-based preferences in hiring, contracting and admissions, is a matter for the courts - not the Legislature - to decide, he said. The matter is the subject of pending litigation.
"I wholeheartedly agree with the goal of this legislation," the Democratic governor said in a veto message. "Proposition 209 should be interpreted to allow UC and CSU to consider race and other relevant factors in their admissions policies to the extent permitted under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In fact, I have submitted briefs in my capacities as both governor and attorney general strongly urging the courts to adopt such an interpretation."
However, he wrote, "Our constitutional system of separation of powers requires that the courts - not the Legislature - determine the limits of Proposition 209."
Senate Bill 185, by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Los Angeles, became controversial when a Republican group at the University of California, Berkeley, held an "Increase Diversity Bake Sale" in opposition to the bill, charging different prices based on race, gender and ethnicity.