Utah Affirmative Action Amendment (2010)

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The Utah Civil Rights Amendment did not appear on the November 2, 2010 as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. According to supporters, they were unable to acquire sufficient votes in the House. The movement stalled out with the vote count at "49 and a maybe," said Jeff Hartley, who had been hired by the American Civil Rights Institute to lobby for the amendment.[1] The legislation proposed prohibiting preferential treatment in hiring or college admissions based on race, gender or ethnicity.[2]

Specifically, the legislation called for asking voters if language from the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be added to Utah's Constitution. The language would have prohibited "the State, public institutions of higher education, and political subdivisions from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."[3][4]

Supporters

The measure was sponsored by Rep. Curtis Oda and co-sponsored by Rep. Carl Wimmer. "You're promoting discrimination to stop discrimination. You're telling these people, 'You're not good enough to do it on your own. Let's just hand it to you,'" said Oda in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. Oda called affirmative action a failure.[5]

Opponents

Shortly following the introduction of HJR 24 a group of Utah community members mobilized to stop the proposed amendment. Speakers at an education forum at Salt Lake City's Horizonte Instructional Center on February 27 said affirmative action was not "reverse racism."[5]

Path to the ballot

The constitutional amendment required a two-thirds vote in the Utah Legislature in order to qualify for the November 2010. An amended version of the bill required a series of public hearings on the issue during Summer 2010.[6][7] However, on March 11, supporters said they were unable to acquire sufficient votes in the House. The movement stalled out with the vote count at "49 and a maybe," said Jeff Hartley, who had been hired by the American Civil Rights Institute to lobby for the amendment.[1]

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