For Immediate Release
January 4, 2021
SAN DIEGO, CA – January 4, 2021- Californians for Equal Rights (CFER) issues the following statement to highlight the divisive, race-based nature of recent public statements made by the California Latino Legislative Caucus (CLLC) and State Senator Richard Pan regarding the candidacy of State Attorney General (AG) following the upcoming departure of current AG Xavier Becerra.
The consideration of candidates for the state’s chief law officer, as well as for any other public office, should be primarily based on individual qualifications, rather than immutable characteristics such as race or sex. Sadly, instead of embracing the merit-based, good-faith principle that would also enhance equal opportunity, CLLC and Senator Pan are championing racial spoils and political tribalism. Specifically, Pan called for an Asian-American Attorney General in a CalMatters commentary, while the CLLC sent an open letter to Governor Newsom urging for the nomination of a Latino woman to that position.
No rationale can justify the political favoritism displayed by CLLC and Pan at the expense of social cohesion and racial harmony: race- and sex-based endorsements for a top state office that’s purported to ensure uniform and adequate enforcement of state laws represent a toxic zero-sum scenario. The reasoning of CLLC and Pan who was recently elected to chair the California API Legislative Caucus, is inflammatory and risks disenfranchising California’s increasingly diverse population. Both argue, without any empirical evidence or factual basis, that the ascension of their preferred nominees along racial or gender lines is necessary for the empowerment and engagement of their ethnic communities. The California Department of Justice, the agency through which the Attorney General carries out his or her responsibilities, currently employs over 4,500 individuals who help make up the state’s minority-dominated civil service workforce. As of June 2020, California’s public employment sector consisted of 58.4% racial minorities— 25.9% Latino, 9.3% black, and 17.9% Asian.
Ironically, such endorsements for the state’s top law officer who shall enforce state laws stand to violate California’s constitutional guarantee of equal treatment. According to California’s State Constitution Article I Section 31(a), “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
“By soundly rejecting Prop. 16, California voters have unequivocally expressed that preferential treatment based on race or sex should be prohibited in public employment, public education and public contract. Sacramento’s political elites, nonetheless, are proposing to violate the state constitution by making such statements. It is the sacred duty of our nation’s most diverse and populous state to treat its citizens equally. It’s people’s will! On the flip side, it is the sworn responsibility of the State Attorney General to faithfully enforce state laws, including Article I Section 31 (a) of our state constitution. As such, the nomination process of the State Attorney General must not engage in any race- or sex-based preferences,” said Mr. Frank Xu, President of Californians for Equal Rights.
About Californians for Equal Rights (CFER): CFER is a non-political and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and advance the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop 209 requires that “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment.