Published June 01, 2023
On May 31, 2023, the American Civil Rights Project (ACR Project), representing Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER) and individual San Francisco taxpayers filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco Unified School District, the University of California San Francisco and the California Health and Human Services Agency. Our legal challenge focuses on four unconstitutional guaranteed-income programs that violate the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the California State Constitution Article I Section 31(a) (Prop. 209), as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
For Immediate Release
June 1, 2023
SAN DIEGO, CA – June 1, 2023- On May 31st, the American Civil Rights Project (ACR Project), representing Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER) and individual San Francisco taxpayers filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco Unified School District, the University of California San Francisco and the California Health and Human Services Agency. Our legal challenge focuses on four unconstitutional guaranteed-income programs that violate the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the California State Constitution's Equal Protection Guarantee, as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In March, the ACR Project and CFER notified the defendants our intent to sue to stop these illegal programs. However, the defendants ignored our warning and failed to respond to our request to rectify the programs. “We warned San Francisco and its co-conspirators that distributing public resources based on race was cartoonishly unconstitutional. They ignored us. Thankfully, California has a mechanism for its people to shut down obviously illegal programs,” explained ACR Project Executive Director Dan Morenoff.
“The California Constitution unambiguously prohibits public agencies from treating individuals differently on the basis of race,” commented Frank Xu, president of CFER. “But these entities ignore the law and offer race-preferential programs under the disguise of equity. We are proud to participate in this historic legal challenge to safeguard equal treatment as the lead plaintiff.”
The ACR Project’s California co-counsel Bradley Benbrook commented: “both Constitutions include equal protection guarantees. The California Constitution further prohibits granting ‘[any] citizen or class of citizens’ any ‘privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.’ These provisions clearly forbid public entities from choosing beneficiaries based on identitarian considerations. And Title VI does the same for federal funding recipients, barring them from ‘exclud[ing anyone] from participation in’ or denying them ‘the benefits of’ ‘any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance’ – the state, city, school district, and both UC affiliates are federal funding recipients many times over.”
The four guaranteed-income programs we are challenging include:
The Abundant Birth Project (APB), which provides unconditional cash supplements (up to $1,000) to Black and Pacific Islander mothers as a strategy to reduce preterm birth and improve economic outcomes for our communities.
The Guaranteed Income for Trans People (GIFT), which provides low-income transgender San Franciscans with $1,200 each month, up to 18 months, with priority given to Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) applicants.
The Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists (GIPA), which provides 190 artists of particular races and gender expressions monthly payments of $1,000 for up to 18 months.
The Black Economic Equity Movement (BEEM), which selects 300 Black young adults ages 18 to 24 to receive $500 per month for one year.
CFER and its individual taxpayer co-plaintiffs are represented by the ACR Project and its co-counsel at the Benbrook Law Group.
About Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER):We are a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and raise public awareness on 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.