Court Rules To Postpone Recall, Proposition 54 Election
A three judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco yesterday ruled to postpone the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election, possibly until March 2004, a decision that also delayed a vote on Proposition 54, the Los Angeles Times reports (Weinstein, Los Angeles Times, 9/16). Proposition 54, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data (California Healthline, 9/15). The panel of ruled unanimously that punch-card ballots used in six counties would likely disenfranchise about 40,000 voters, which would cause "irreparable harm," the Contra Costa Times reports (Contra Costa Times, 9/15). Polling places in Los Angeles, Mendocino, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara and Solano counties had planned to used decertified, pre-scored punch-card counters, which have been know to leave "hanging chads" and create other vote-count problems since 1975. A 2002 legal agreement stipulates that punch-card machines must be phased out throughout California by March 1, 2004 (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 9/16). The panel noted that Proposition 54 has been described as "racially charged," adding that "significant evidence" was presented that the punch-card voting systems would disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters (Contra Costa Times, 9/15). Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (D) will announce today whether he will seek a rehearing of the case or whether he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review it. If he requests a rehearing, the appeals court's 26 sitting judges will vote whether to hear it, and if more than 13 agree on a rehearing, the case will be considered by an 11-judge panel. That panel's decision could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Shelley requests the Supreme Court's review, the justices will vote to decide whether to hear the case, with four votes being sufficient for a hearing (Los Angeles Times, 9/16).
Summaries of other Proposition 54 coverage are provided below.
- The San Jose Mercury News today looks at the opposition to Proposition 54 within the medical community, which says the ballot measure would limit public health research and interfere with disease prevention programs. "Little in recent memory has riled the health community more" than the initiative, the Mercury News reports, adding that the Department of Health Services, Kaiser Permanente, the California Medical Association and the American Public Health Association have expressed their opposition to the measure (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 9/16).
- Proposition 54 is "a vague, badly written mess" that insufficiently specifies what would be permitted if it were enacted, Joe Rodriguez writes in a San Jose Mercury News column. "We have a long, long way to go before we become a colorblind society, and I'd rather get us there with our eyes open," he concludes (Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, 916).
Additional Proposition 54 coverage is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.