John Leo

Worse, backers of 227 fear a broad "settlement" that undermines what voters passed. The state department of education took the legal defense of 227 out of the hands of the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation and gave it to California attorney general Bill Lockyer. He is a very odd choice. If California ever builds a museum of noncompliance, a statue of Lockyer should be in it. He has declined to enforce Prop. 209, the state anti-preferences law, against many state agencies that flout it. When the city of San Jose was hauled into court as a violator of 209, Lockyer spoke in the city's defense, depicting a preference program as benign outreach. The Pacific Legal Foundation turned up documents showing that Lockyer himself used illegal race-based preferences in his own department.

Racial preferences, of course, are the mother lode of modern noncompliance with the law. The PLF estimates that 30 percent of California public agencies do not comply with the law against race and gender preferences. Nationally, quota evasions grow ever more complex. Lapsing into frankness, the University of Texas School of Law told a court that the state's public universities were using "18 admission factors, mostly having nothing to do with academics," in the hope some factors will yield more minority students. The University of California's emphasis on "life experiences" is in this category.

The University of Texas is also reserving slots for graduates of 130 state high schools that traditionally do not send many students to campus. This is described as an attempt to achieve geographic and cultural diversity, but the schools are mostly in inner-city areas, so it looks like an illegal end-run around the 1996 Hopwood decision banning race preferences. Anything to beat the law.

Maybe we should talk a bit about what happens to a culture in which so many high-minded citizens are busy finagling, lying and breaking the law. Roger Clegg of the anti-preferences Center for Equal Opportunity says we are seeing the rise of "massive resistance" that even a Supreme Court decision may not stop. This is an interesting reference. In the old South, poll taxes and literacy tests were obvious law-evading proxies for black exclusion, similar in style to the many pro-preference law-evading proxies used today.

The bilingual lobby copied another segregationist tactic: converting public schools into academies so the law can be evaded. A California outfit, By Any Means Necessary, says frankly it will break any law to promote inclusion. They style themselves as progressives, but their diehard resistance and not-so-subtle hints about violence remind me of the old White Citizens Councils. Deliver us from people so in love with their own moral passion that they think they are entitled to break the law.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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