Increasing numbers of Americans defy racial categories, but the American Bar Association wants the government to keep trying to count us by race. At its 2003 annual meeting last week, the group's House of Delegates registered its opposition to proposals that would prevent the government from collecting racial data.
The meeting took place in San Francisco two months before Californians will vote on such a proposal. Proposition 54, the so-called "Racial Privacy Initiative" championed by University of California Regent Ward Connerly, will appear on the ballot in the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election. Mr. Connerly previously spearheaded Proposition 209, adopted in 1996, which prohibits racial discrimination in public education, employment, and contracting.
Until the 1970s, the nation's largest lawyers' association focused only on matters relating specifically to the legal profession. Since then, however, the ABA has adopted resolutions, nearly always reflecting the liberal position, on a wide range of issues. The Bush administration cited this trend in 2001 when it decided no longer to allow the ABA to evaluate judicial candidates prior to nomination. The ABA had been the only private group with such a quasi-official pre-screening role, and the Bush administration said it should instead be treated like everyone else.