12-08-2019  12:21 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Food Professionals See Opportunities to “Scale Up” in School Cafeterias and on Store Shelves

Two Portland women are addressing disparities in the local food scene with Ethiopian and Haitian flavors, ingredients

Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone Climbing Historic Ladders

In 1995, Boone was the first African American woman hired by Portland Fire & Rescue; this year she became its first African American Chief

Christmas Tree Shopping is Harder Than Ever, Thanks to Climate Change and Demographics

For Christmas tree farms to survive, shoppers will need to be more flexible

November Holiday Travel at PDX Brings More Comfort, Convenience and Furry Friends

If you’ve not been to Portland International Airport in a few months, you’re in for some surprises.

NEWS BRIEFS

Conservation Breakthrough for Endangered Butterfly

The Oregon Zoo's breeding success provides new hope in an effort to save Oregon silverspots ...

Meet 80 Local Authors at OHS 52nd Holiday Cheer Book Sale and Signing

This free Oregon Historical Society event will be held this Sunday, December 8 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ...

Need for Blood Doesn’t Stop for Holidays – Donors Needed

Those who come to give through Dec. 18 will receive a Amazon.com Gift Card ...

North Carolina Court Decision Upholds Removal of Confederate Monument

Lawyers argued that the monument was installed at the end of Reconstruction to further the false “Lost Cause” narrative,...

Artist Talk with 13-year-old Local to be Held This Tuesday, Nov. 26

Hobbs Waters will be discussing his solo exhibit “Thirteen” at The Armory in Portland ...

Oregon to change policy after losing parental rights fight

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon officials who attempted to end the parental rights of a couple because of the parents' low IQs have reached an agreement with U.S. officials requiring the state follow federal civil rights laws.The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the Oregon Department of Human...

Commercial ocean crabbing further delayed in Oregon

NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) — State shellfish managers say the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season will be further delayed until at least Dec. 31 along the entire Oregon coast as testing shows crab are still too low in meat yield in half of the areas along the coast.The World reports the...

Missouri fires football coach Barry Odom after 4 seasons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri fired football coach Barry Odom on Saturday, ending the four-year stay of a respected former player who took over a program in disarray but could never get the Tigers over the hump in the brutal SEC.The Tigers finished 6-6 and 3-5 in the conference after...

Powell, Missouri snap 5-game skid with win over Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — In a game started by third- and fifth-string quarterbacks, the outcome was decided by one of their backups. It was appropriate enough for Arkansas and Missouri, two teams facing their longest losing streaks in decades.Fayetteville High School graduate Taylor Powell...

OPINION

Will You Answer the Call for Moral Revival?

In embracing and expanding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Revs. Barber and Theoharis have asked Presidential candidates to consider a debate that focuses exclusively on poverty ...

What I’m Thankful For This Season

Ray Curry gives thanks for a human right that shaped our country throughout the 20th century and that made Thanksgiving possible for so many Americans who, like him, didn’t get here by way of the Mayflower ...

Congressional Black Caucus Members Visit U.S.-Mexico Border: “Mistreatment of Black Immigrants is Another ‘Stain on America’”

Members said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants ...

Portland, I'm Ready

Last month I had the privilege to stand with hundreds of supporters and announce my intention to run for re-election ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

In Florida, Trump says he's Israel's best pal in White House

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises."Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National...

Army football removes motto from spirit flag

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — The United States Military Academy at West Point removed a motto from a spirit flag used by the school's football team because of its connection to hate groups. The letters GFBD, which stand for “God Forgives, Brothers Don’t,” were emblazoned on a...

Voting site reopened in Georgia after grassroots fight

HAZLEHURST, Ga. (AP) — When local election officials shut down a polling site in a predominantly black area of a rural Georgia county, displaced voters couldn’t look to the federal government to intervene as it once did in areas with a history of racial disenfranchisement.So residents...

ENTERTAINMENT

Bloomberg: His news reporters need to accept restrictions

NEW YORK (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says employees at his news organization need to accept restrictions with their paycheck, including the ban on investigating their boss.Bloomberg, billionaire founder of Bloomberg News, was asked in a CBS News interview about...

Billy Joel, Kardashians Diplo descend on Miami for Art Basel

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — As gallerists and collectors descend on Miami's most prestigious art fair by day, the Hollywood crowd knows it's all about the exclusive after parties. Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Pharrell were in town while DJ Khaled and rappers Travis Scott and Gucci Mane held...

Belafonte recalls Horne’s activism as Solange is honored

NEW YORK (AP) — Lena Horne was a fierce advocate for civil rights in her later years, but that part of her legacy is often pushed behind her glamorous image. Her good friend Harry Belafonte hopes that a new award in her honor will push that aspect of her life front and center.“She had...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Simplicity is genius': Joshua boxes smart to reclaim titles

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Anthony Joshua jumped up and down in the ring with his massive entourage,...

New Amazon lease for NY space renews debate over failed deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has signed a lease for a new office space in Manhattan that will house more than...

Protests subside, but economic aftershocks rattle Haitians

Port-au-Prince (AP) — The flaming barricades are mostly gone, protesters have largely dissipated and...

Pro-government protesters denounce Hong Kong 'rioters'

HONG KONG (AP) — Only after finding safety in numbers, joining hundreds of other pro-government protesters...

Iran says new budget bucks US oil embargo, uses Russian loan

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president said on Sunday his country will depend less on oil revenue next year,...

Nobel laureate: Face up to climate change, no escaping Earth

STOCKHOLM (AP) — An astronomer who shares this year's Nobel physics prize for discovering a planet outside...

McMenamins
George E. Curry NNPA Editor-In-Chief

Supreme Court Court PhotoWASHINGTON (NNPA) – Four months after the Supreme Court declined to invalidate affirmative action in a case brought against the University of Texas, it heard oral arguments to determine if a Michigan referendum violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by amending the state constitution to prohibit the consideration of race, sex, color ethnicity or national origin in public university admissions decisions.

The case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, was argued before the court on Oct. 15.  While the case is not exclusively about affirmative action, it will determine whether Michigan and other states with similar bans can outlaw affirmative action through statewide initiatives rather than judicial channels.

Michigan is becoming the battleground for affirmative action in the Supreme Court. In 2003, the court ruled on two cases involving the University of Michigan. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court approved the University of Michigan Law School admissions program that considered race within "the individualized, holistic review of each applicant's file."

However, in Grutter v. Bollinger, the court invalidated the undergraduate affirmative action program that assigned specific points for race.

Although the conservative John Roberts court has appeared to be eager to review cases that provide it an opportunity to severely restrict affirmative action in higher education, it was compelled to enter this fray because of two conflicting decisions by different federal appeals courts (6th and 9th), which rank second in power to only the Supreme Court.

If the court overturns the Michigan ban, it won't be the first time it has invalidated a popular citizen initiative. In 1969 (Hunter v. Erickson), the Supreme Court struck down a change in the city charter of Akron, Ohio that made it harder to implement housing policies that assisted people of color. In 1982 (Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1), the court nullified a voter approved ban prohibiting the use of busing for desegregation.

At the other extreme, the court also upheld a California constitutional amendment (Crawford v. Los Angeles Board of Education) in 1982 that prohibited state courts from ordering pupil reassignment and bussing unless it was required under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Attorneys on both sides spent a considerable amount of time in their briefs and in oral arguments trying to show how the Seattle and Los Angeles rulings applies – or does not apply – to their respective positions.

The court's ruling in this case will affect Michigan and five other states – California, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington – that have similar bans. Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from the case, presumably because of her work on the case in 2009 as U.S. Solicitor General. If the court deadlocks 4-4, the 6th Circuit Appeals Court ruling overturning the Michigan ban would become the governing law.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to prohibit state government institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, in the areas of public employment, public contracting or public education. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit let stand lower court rulings upholding the constitutionality of Prop 209.

Ward Connerly, a Black conservative who had helped spearhead the anti-affirmative action measure in California, helped organize a similar drive in Michigan with the aid of Jennifer Gratz, the lead plaintiff in the 2003 Grantz v. Bollinger decision that found the University of Michigan's undergraduate affirmative action program relied too much on race.

Michigan's Proposal 2, modeled after the California ban, was passed by Michigan voters in November 2006 by a vote of 58 percent to 42 percent. Although the ballot initiative outlaws all special consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education and contracting, the issue before the Supreme Court pertains only to the application of race in the university admissions process.

According to Michigan Solicitor General John J. Bursch, who is representing Attorney General Bill Schuette in the proceedings, the issue before the court isn't about race per se.

Responding to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Bursch said, "But our point isn't to get into a debate about whether preferences are a good or a bad thing, because that's not what this case is about. The question is whether the people of Michigan have the choice through the democratic process to accept this court's invitation in Grutter to try race-neutral means."

Sotomayor, the most aggressive defender of affirmative action during the oral arguments, said, "I thought that in Grutter, all the social scientists had pointed out to the fact that all of those efforts had failed. That's one of the reasons why the – I think it was a law school claim in Michigan was upheld."

In their brief, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights; Fight for Equity By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and Chase M. Cantrell, et al., argued that the 14th Amendment does not permit Michigan voters to selectively distort the decision-making process.

"As enacted, Proposal 2 manipulates the political process by imposing distinctively disadvantageous barriers upon proponents of permissible policies under the Fourteenth Amendment incorporating consideration of racial identity and background, but favors – indeed mandates – policies that bar taking race into account.

"State more specifically, Proposal 2 rigs the political process against race-based policies that favor diversity so as to systematically endorse race-based policies that disfavor racial diversity by discriminatorily recalibrating the rules of governmental decisionmaking."

Justice Sotomayor seemed to accept that argument in court when she told Bursch, "..This amendment is stopping the political process. It's saying the board of regents can do everything else in the field of education except this one."

On the other hand, Justice Samuel Alito appeared to side with the Michigan attorney general.

"Well, I thought the whole purpose of strict scrutiny was to say if you want to talk about race, you have a much higher hurdle to climb than if you want to talk about something else."

One of the sharpest exchanges took place between Antonin Scalia and Shanta Driver, an attorney for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

DRIVER:  We ask this Court to uphold the Sixth Circuit decision to reaffirm the doctrine that's expressed in Hunter-Seattle, and to bring the 14th Amendment back to its original purpose and meaning, which is to protect minority rights against a white majority, which did not occur in this case.

SCALIA: My goodness, I thought we've – we've held that the 14th Amendment protects all races. I mean, that was the argument in the early years, that it protected only — only the blacks. But I thought we rejected that. You – you say now that we have to proceed as though its purpose is not to protect whites, only to protect minorities?

DRIVER: I think it is – it's a measure that's an antidiscrimination measure.

SCALIA: Right.

DRIVER: And it's a measure in which the question of discrimination is determined not just by –  by power, by who has privilege in this society, and those minorities that are oppressed, be they religious or racial, need protection from a more privileged majority.

SCALIA: And unless that exists, the 14th Amendment is not violated; is that right? So if you have a banding together of various minority groups who discriminate against – against whites, that's okay?

DRIVER: I think that -­

SCALIA: Do you have any case of ours that propounds that view of the 14th Amendment,

that it protects only minorities? Any case?

DRIVER: No case of yours.

After questioning by Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, Justice Sotomayor carefully guided Driver back to the core of her argument.

SOTOMAYOR:… I thought the line was a very simple one, which is if the normal academic decision-making is in the dean, the faculty, at whatever level, as long as the normal right to control is being exercised, then that person could change the decision. So if they delegate most admissions decisions, as I understand from the record, to the faculty, but they still regularly, besides race, veto some of those decisions, and race is now one of them, then the Board of Regents can do that normally. So could the president, if that's the way it's normally done.  It's when the process is – political process has changed specifically and only for race, as a constitutional amendment here was intended to do, that the political doctrine is violated. Have I restated?

DRIVER: You have, you restated it very well, and I agree with you in principle. 

Supporters of affirmative action are hoping to use a Supreme Court will rely on its precedents, especially the one involving Seattle, as the basis for overturning the Michigan referendum.

A brief of opposition joined by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU Foundation and others stated, "Blacks and other citizens had won school board approval of a busing plan to lessen the de facto segregation in Seattle's public schools. White citizens then waged a successful campaign to pass a statewide initiative prohibiting school boards from using busing to achieve racial integration, while permitting the use of busing for a number of other purposes. The Court again held that a state could not selectively gerrymander the political process to impose more onerous political burdens on those seeking to promote racial integration than it imposed on those pursuing other policy agendas."

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