Women

California Supreme Court to Decide Affirmative Action Lawsuit

May 5, 2010

On May 4, justices on the California Supreme Court appeared split on the question of whether Proposition 209, a 1996 initiative that amended the state constitution to ban affirmative action, violates the federal constitution.

The high court heard arguements in a lawsuit challening a 2003 San Francisco ordinance that gives firms owned by racial minorities and women a slight advantage in bids for city contracts.

The city of San Francisco argued that the program is necessary to level the playing field and counter ongoing discrimination.

An attorney for two white-owned contractors argued that the San Francisco ordinance violates Proposition 209, which prohibits affirmative action in government contracts, public employment, and public education.

Immediately after the passage of Proposition 209 by 54% of voters in November 1996, Governor Pete Wilson identified 31 state-funded programs for elimination or curtailment, including summer science programs for elementary school students and hiring programs that ensured recruitment from minority communities. 

Civil rights attorneys filed a class action lawsuit to stop Proposition 209 from taking effect. In late December 1996, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the initiative.  In 1997, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Henderson's ruling.

The state supreme court is not bound by the earlier federal court ruling.

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In a case regarding San Francisco contractors, the high court justices debated whether Proposition 209, California's ban on affirmative action, violates the federal constitution.

Tenth Anniversary Edition of "Wherever There's a Fight" to be Released

September 24, 2019

Heyday is proud to announce the publication of the Tenth Anniversary edition of Wherever There’s A Fight:  How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California

According to Heyday publisher Steve Wasserman, "Ten years ago, Heyday published Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi's stirring compendium of California heroes, both sung and unsung, who down the decades demonstrated exemplary courage fighting the good fight to ensure civil liberties for all Californians and in so doing helped put the golden state at the forefront of a better, more just America. The stories they tell so well are needed now more than ever and this tenth anniversary edition is designed to reach readers everywhere, young and old alike, to inspire and provide hope for new generations of citizens who continue to fulfill the promise of the California--nay, American, dream."

November 5 release date set for special anniversary edition of award-winning book whose stories of civil liberties struggles are all the more relevant now.

KQED Forum: California, 'Wherever There's a Fight'

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Date: 
July 28, 2010

Host Michael Krasny talks with Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi about the many unsung heroes of California's past profiled in their book.

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California Supreme Court Rules in Case Challenging Ban on Affirmative Action

August 3, 2010

On August 2, the California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that Proposition 209, the 1996 initiative barring state affirmative action programs based on race and gender, does not violate the federal constitution.

The decision arose from a lawsuit filed by two white contractors who objected to a 2003 San Francisco ordinance that gives firms owned by racial minorities and women a slight advantage in bids for city contracts.

However, Justice Kathryn Werdegar, writing for the majority, said that the San Francisco ordinance does not necessarily violate Proposition 209.  Werdegar wrote that San Francisco's affirmative action program is valid if the city can prove that it is narrowly defined and necessary to overcome intentional discrimination against businesses owned by racial minorities and women.

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Immediately after the passage of Proposition 209 by 54% of voters in November 1996, Governor Pete Wilson identified 31 state-funded programs for elimination or curtailment, including summer science programs for elementary school students and hiring programs that ensured recruitment from minority communities. 

Civil rights attorneys filed a class action lawsuit to stop Proposition 209 from taking effect. In late December 1996, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the initiative.  In 1997, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Henderson's ruling.

 

In a lawsuit focused on whether Proposition 209 violates the federal constitution, the high court rules that the state can prohibit preferences and discrimination based on race and gender.

[Chapter 05] Holding Up Half the Sky: The Rights of Women

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, California women lobbied and went out on strikes for their right to work in professions and their right to equal pay.

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New Laws on Human Trafficking

September 26, 2012

On September 24, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills expanding penalties imposed on individuals tried and convicted of human trafficking, as well as another bill requiring some businesses to post hotline numbers for victims of human trafficking and others to report incidents of this human rights abuse. 

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California has a dark history of human trafficking. Beginning in the 1850s and continuing for decades, thousands of Chinese women were brought into California as indentured slaves forced into prostitution in San Francisco, the gold mining regions, and agricultural areas.

Most were women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five when they were kidnapped, lured, or purchased from impoverished parents.  Some were as young as ten.

Resistance was almost impossible. The young women were in a strange country, in debt, and alone. They spoke little or no English and were treated with disdain by the white majority. They were stigmatized and subject to racist assaults.

Until churches started shelters for these women, it was virtually impossible for them to find safe havens.  Those who dared to help these women faced threats and violence.

Governor Brown approves a series of bills aimed at eliminating human trafficking in California

Majority of Californians View State's Diversity as Asset and Challenge

January 28, 2010

The findings of a new field poll show that 58 percent of California voters consider the diversity of the state's population both an advantage but also a source of problems. More respondents (24%) said they considered California's diversity only an asset, while fewer (14%) believe it is only a challenge.

Since statehood, California has been a place of incredible diversity, as people, albeit mostly men, from all over the globe came to the state because of the gold rush. In recent years, the state's diversity has been the focus of initiative battles that have targeted the civil liberties of minority groups. In 1994, voters approved Proposition 187 which was meant to deny state services to undocumented immigrants. The law never went into effect because Governer Gray Davis did not pursue the state's defense of the propostion after state and federal judges barred implementation of the law. In 1996, Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action in state programs, passed by 54%. And in 2008, voters altered the state constitution to deny gay men and lesbians the right to marry.

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Field Poll director calls findings hopeful as California voters are more positive than negative about the state's diverse demographics.

Women Sue to Remove Combat Ban

December 1, 2012

Four servicewomen and the Service Women's Action Network filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco on November 27 challenging the Defense Department's longstanding policy barring women from thousands of ground combat positions.

The four servicemembers have all done tours in Iraq or Afghanistan – some deploying multiple times – where they served in combat or led female troops who went on missions with combat infantrymen.

The lawsuit claims that their careers and opportunities have been limited by the combat policy, which does not grant them the same recognition for their service as their male counterparts. The combat exclusion policy, the suit says, also makes it harder for them to do their jobs.

Women make up more than 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel, yet the combat ban categorically excludes them from more than 238,000 positions. Consequently, commanders are stymied in their ability to mobilize their troops effectively.

In addition, the lawsuit charges that servicewomen are denied training and recognition for their service, put at a disadvantage for promotions, and prevented from competing for positions for which they have demonstrated their suitability, and from advancing in rank.

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Servicewomen say that an outdated policy fails to recognize their service and leadership in Iraq and Afgahanistan

Criminal Justice, Early California, Race, Women: 1850

Legislature passes laws:

  • Allowing for the virtual slavery of Indian children and of adult Indians declared “vagrants” by judges. The law expires in 1863.
  • Barring African Americans, Indians, and mulattoes from testifying against whites in criminal cases. The following year, the legislature bans testimony from the same groups in civil trials.
  • Criminalizing abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.

Early California, Women: 1850

Legislature passes a ban on abortion; in 1858 the law is extended to criminalize disseminating information about abortion.

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