Opinion

Lantz trying to roll back parts of I-200

Pat Lantz either believes her opinion trumps the will of 60 percent of Washington’s voters, or she’s so busy trying to pay back the special interests that supported her own candidacy and those of her fellow Democrats that she simply doesn’t care what we think.

Either way, her constituents should be outraged.

Lantz, who represents the 26th District in the state Legislature and also chairs the House Judiciary Committee, is one of the prime sponsors of House Bill 1586, which would permit a “college or university to maintain a diverse student population by considering race, color, ethnicity or national origin in the admission and transfer process...”

If the language sounds familiar, it’s because that’s precisely the kind of social engineering targeted six years ago by Initiative 200, which outlawed the use of racial preferences by any state or local government in hiring, contracting or admitting students to college.

Despite being outspent by 3-to-1 by the initiative’s critics — a virtual Who’s Who of liberal special interests that included organized labor, the Washington Education Association and the NAACP — enough Washingtonians recognized the innate fairness and common sense of I-200 to ensure its victory in nearly every county and in 40 of the state’s 49 legislative districts.

In Lantz’s own 26th District, the initiative passed 63 percent to 36.

So why are she and her fellow Democrats intent on repealing the college admissions portion of I-200? Is it because in the absence of legislative tinkering the percentage of minority students on Washington’s campuses has shrunk to alarming levels?

Don’t think so. According to enrollment figures from the University of Washington, this year’s student population is the most racially and ethnically diverse in the school’s history — more so than even before I-200 was enacted.

Among UW students, less than 54 percent of those enrolled classify themselves as white. This in a state where 72 percent of the population is white. African-Americans account for 3.8 percent of UW students, where they make up 3.7 percent of the state’s population.

The disparity, of course, is in Asians, who make up only 6.5 percent of the state population as a whole but account for 30.5 percent of the UW student body.

In any case, the only racial group under-represented at UW is caucasians, which would seem to disprove the thesis that minorities need Lantz’s help gaining admission to college.

The Democrats also claim their bill is necessary to bring the state into compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year allowing the University of Michigan to consider racial preferences with respect to its law school. But that’s a distortion of the court’s ruling.

In fact, what the court actually said was that states could use racial preferences, not that they were required to. Nothing in the ruling even remotely suggests Washington needs to do what Pat Lantz wants instead of what three-fifths of its voters want.

As Richard Davis, president of the Washington Research Council, noted last week in an op-ed in the Tacoma News Tribune, “The decision doesn’t mandate such consideration, of course, and there’s compelling evidence that the state’s universities have done an outstanding job of achieving racial and ethnic diversity since I-200 passed.”

Amen. Which brings us back to Lantz — who, by the way, took the trouble to send out a press release last week publicizing her sponsorship of a feel-good bill that would require mandatory testing in Washington state schools on civics and U.S. government but hasn’t, as yet, alerted the media about HB-1586.

Here’s a civics lesson for the 26th District’s senior representative in the House: You were elected to represent your consituents, not undercut their emphatically stated wishes by sponsoring bills that do nothing but pay political tribute to the Democratic Party’s most lavish donors.

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