Obama: Profiling for me, but not for thee

February 17, 2013 18:05

Put another way, “White Males Need Not Apply.”



By Kevin Mooney | Watchdog.org

Be sure you fit the profile before seeking out new opportunities in Barack Obama’s America.

Put another way, “White Males Need Not Apply.”

This is central message behind the race and gender quotas now operating at the federal level that make it necessary for federal officials to profile Americans doing business with the government. This is being done for the laudable purpose of expanding opportunities for “underrepresented” minorities and women, according to the legislation.

But policy analysts and civil rights activists familiar with the preferential policies included as part of the Dodd-Frank finance bill, the federal health care bill and other pieces of legislation see a problem. The quotas and set asides that now flow out of the legislation are in direct conflict with the post-racial sentiments President Obama has stressed repeatedly in his public pronouncements, they argue. The attitude here seems to be “profiling for me, but not for thee.”

Take Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank bill, which creates at least 20 new Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion. Each office includes a director who is charged with developing standards for “equal employment opportunity and the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the workforce and senior management of the agency; increased participation of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the programs and contracts of the agency, including standards for coordinating technical assistance to such businesses; and assessing the diversity policies and practices of entities regulated by the agency.”

The affected agencies include the Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the 12 Federal Reserve regional banks and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The overriding purpose of Section 342 is to “ensure, to the maximum extent possible, the fair inclusion and utilization of minorities, women, and minority-owned and women-owned businesses in all business and activities of the agency at all levels, including in procurement, insurance, and all types of contracts.”

What this means in practice, is that the federal government, and companies doing with business with the government will begin to set up a quota system to ensure compliance, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a scholar with the Manhattan Institute, said.

“To comply, federal agencies are likely to find it easier to employ and contract with less-qualified women and minorities, in order to avoid regulatory trouble,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “This would in turn decrease the agencies’ efficiency, productivity and output, while increasing their costs.”

Moreover, the only way financial firms contracting with the federal government would be able to comply with the Section 342 stipulations “is by showing that a certain percentage of their workforce is female or minority,” she added.

President Obama’s signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, also includes race and gender preferences. Allan Favish, a Los Angeles lawyer, has unpackaged the relevant language. Section 5301 of the federal health care law calls for the secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants and contracts to those groups that have a “demonstrated record” of training “individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds…”

Favish said medical schools will likely adjust their standards so they can qualify for the financial inducements made available through the federal health care law.

“The bill does not state what would qualify as a demonstrated record, so we can expect medical schools and the other entities to do whatever they think they can get away with to train as many individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups as they think they might need to have a better demonstrated record in this regard than other entities competing for the grants and contracts,” he explained.

Once again, this means qualified individuals will be screened out from consideration if they do not fit the favored profile.

Civil rights initiatives flush out inconsistent policy stance

Yet, Obama has repeatedly spoken out against policies that he claims could subject innocent citizens to unfair profiling practices and unequal treatment. At the same time, he has opposed state level ballot initiatives that outlaw government sanction discrimination.

For example, when Arizona lawmakers passed an immigration enforcement law in 2010 (SB 1070) that allowed police officers to ask criminal suspects if they were legally residing in the country, Obama warned that the law could lead to racial profiling.

“You can imagine if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona, your great grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state,” he said during a town hall forum. “Now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you take your kid out for ice cream and you’re going to be harassed, that’s not the right way to go.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that part of the Arizona law that allowed police officers to raise questions about a criminal suspect’s immigration status, Obama continued to express strong reservations and told members of the media that law abiding citizens could be subjected to unfair scrutiny and profiling. For the record, Arizona police officers are only permitted to ask about an individual’s immigration status if they are conducting an investigation into other criminal infractions.

So where does President Obama, the anti-profiling president, stand on state-level initiatives that explicitly bans profiling and discrimination in university admissions, government hiring and contracting?

As it turns out, he’s not too keen on the idea.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama criticized U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Republican presidential nominee, for supporting the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, sex and ethnicity.

The ACRI is closely modeled after California’s Proposition 209, a state ballot initiative that voters approved in 1996. Proposition 209 amended the state constitution to read: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

Similar measures also have become law in Washington state, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Florida and Oklahoma.

But while the country embraces post-racial policies, Team Obama is moving aggressively to cement preferences that are opposed by a large majority of Americans into federal law.

U.S. Supreme Court set to strike down preferential policies?

Jennifer Gratz, the plaintiff in the 2003 Gratz v. Bollinger Supreme Court decision that struck down the quota system in place at a University of Michigan undergraduate school, told Watchdog.org that the Obama administration’s duplicity in racial matters can be best understood within the context of a legal theory known as “disparate impact.”

Under this reasoning, any organization that maintains a policy that negatively impacts one racial group more than another, even if there is no racial motive, and the policy is applied evenly to all groups, this organization must be held accountable.

“This essentially means that the Obama administration believes that unequal outcomes means discrimination, which moves us away from equal opportunity,” Gratz said. “Equal outcomes, as opposed to equal opportunity, pretty much necessitates some sort of profiling. Sometimes this profiling may be for seemingly good intentions like diversity. A prime example is the recent executive order dealing with race and school discipline, but there are other examples.”

Gratz co-founded the nonprofit group XIV Foundation — the group took its name from the 14th Amendment — last year shortly after the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is petitioning the U.S Supreme Court to reverse the 16th Circuit ruling.

The decision in the Gratz case was issued in conjunction with Grutter v. Bollinger. Writing for the majority in Grutter, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ruled that it was permissible for the University of Michigan Law School to use race as one of many factors in a “narrowly tailored” fashion to achieve student diversity.

But during the next few months, it is possible the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Grutter and deliver a decisive blow against preferential policies once and for all, Gratz said. She points to the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case before the court, which involves allegations of racial discrimination in college admissions. Gratz said it is also likely that the Supreme Court will take up the legal challenge to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

Meanwhile, a Detroit-based group called BAMN — the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary — is asking the Supreme Court to strike down all state civil rights initiatives beginning with California’s Proposition 209 that ban race and gender quotas.

George Washington, a BAMN attorney, said that the “seemingly benign language” used in the initiatives belies an agenda that is ultimately harmful to disadvantaged minorities.

“The only profiling going on now concerns what these initiatives have done, which is to cut back on the admission of black and Latino students basically because this system has provided unequal education for the last hundred years,” he said. “The people being profiled are the people who are being excluded.”

Watchdog.org invited the White House press office to comment but did not receive a response.


Contact Kevin Mooney at kmooney@watchdog.org and follow him on twitter @KevinMooneyDC


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