At the beginning of this year, the Californian lawmakers had tabled a planned referendum for restoring affirmative action in the area of higher education. The proposal was passed by the Senate with about two-thirds of the vote and needed the approval of the Assembly before becoming a reality. But because of the intense pressure and opposition put by the Asian community in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley in addition to the displeasure voiced by the Asian-American legislators, the measure got killed off as a result.

Aversion of Asian-Americans to the State Constitutional Amendment 5

The strong opposition against the SCA-5 or the State Constitutional Amendment 5 surprised many elected lawmakers. The recent opposition by the Asian-American voters can be compared to the one that occurred long time ago in 1996 when many Asian-Americans voted for a ban on affirmative action. According to the findings of the National Asian American Survey that was conducted in 2012, a substantial number of Asian-Americans supported positive action.  Likewise, many established non-profit organizations that catered to Asian-Americans of the state were known to be strong supporters of positive action.

Demise of SCA-5 due to opposition of Chinese-Americans

Much of the opposition was from Chinese Americans who were intensely against the measure and their targets were the Asian-American lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento. As a result of the intense opposition to the State Constitutional Amendment 5, many Asian-American legislators chose to withdraw their support from the bill. As a result, the proponents of the bill had to bench the measure. While many observers were of the opinion that it was the opposition of the Asian-American community that caused the demise of the bill, the thoughts of the supporters of the bill among the community remain to be not known.

At the same time, the issue had brought forth certain questions that needed answering. Of them, the dominant question is that whether the opposition was a total change in the stance of the Asian-Americans on affirmative action or the change was only limited to Chinese-Americans specifically.

Lessons to be learnt from the entire debacle

The one important lesson that one can take back from the episode is that there needs to be well-timed surveys of public opinion especially of community upon whom the legislation might affect. In this case, a proper survey would have thrown up a much clearer picture as well as ensured that voters had an informed idea. The result would have been different and a modified SCA-5 would have been placed before the voters. Most importantly, surveys of public opinion are a necessity in the state as it continues to attract people from all over the world.