California Imposes Curfew as L.A. Careens Toward New Lockdown Measures

California announced Thursday it will impose a mandatory overnight stay-at-home order for much of the state as COVID-19 surged to unprecedented levels and hard-hit Los Angeles County careened toward even more severe lockdown measures.

While the coronavirus is surging across the state, the situation in Los Angeles County was quickly reaching crisis levels, with nearly 5,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the most it has seen in any one day since the pandemic began.

Morever, California set another record for most coronavirus cases in a single day Thursday. An independent county-by-county tally conducted by The Times found that 13,422 new coronavirus cases were reported Thursday, the second time in a week the single-day record has been broken.

The single-day record was last broken on Monday, when 13,412 coronavirus cases were reported. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

No Thanksgiving For You, California

Thanksgiving has not been canceled. Yet. But given what we’ve learned in recent days, would anyone be surprised if officials insisted we mark the holiday this year by cowering in our basements?

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the governors of Oregon and Washington issued a travel advisory “urging visitors entering their states or returning home from travel outside these states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus.” The governors announced their disapproval of “non-essential out-of-state travel,” and are asking “people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country and encourage residents to stay local.”

While they are not stay-home-at-home orders, they’re clearly intended to make traveling to see family and friends a journey so punishing that for many a trip just won’t be worth it.

Of course, government instructions are only for the little people. The week before the advisory was released, Newsom and his wife attended a birthday party at the French Laundry in Napa County where there were more than a dozen people.

Forget the hypocrisy for a moment and reread the first part of his confession. He and his family “followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions.” He didn’t believe he needed an authority to tell him what to do. He trusted the rules established by a private business that’s self-interested in keeping its patrons healthy. Why can’t the rest of us enjoy the same freedom? Why must our activities be dictated by commands that have come down from on high?

A few days before the travel advisory, the Newsom administration renewed a set of guidelines that other Californians are expected to comply with. The Guidance for Public Gatherings does not mention Thanksgiving, Christmas, or holidays. Nevertheless, the effects will be the same as if it had.

In Purple Tier counties:

  • “A gathering of no more than three households is permitted in a public park or other outdoor space, even if unrelated gatherings of other groups up to three households are also occurring in the same park or other outdoor space.”
  • “If multiple such gatherings are occurring, mixing between groups gatherings is not allowed.”
  • “Multiple gatherings of three households cannot be jointly organized or coordinated to occur in the same public park or other outdoor space at the same time.”

In addition, “singing, chanting, shouting, cheering and similar activities are strongly discouraged at outdoor gatherings and prohibited at indoor gatherings.”

Since the rules include no specific days or dates, Newsom can deny that he dished out a set of special holiday guidelines. But that doesn’t mean he still won’t, or that county officials will be too timid to crack down. With positive coronavirus tests rising, the smell of panic is in the air. And it was particularly strong on Monday when Newsom pulled the “emergency brake” on reopening California. Now 41 of the state’s 58 counties have fallen into Purple Tier detention. Expect others to be added soon, because the governor said he is unwilling to wait “the extra day or extra week” for his next crackdown.

Newsom also expects all Californians to wear – outside of a few exceptions – a mask when outdoors and there is even talk of a curfew, which will remind many that H.L Mencken famously said “the urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” All of this is being done independent of the legislative process that is used to produce legitimate law in a representative republic.

Because they are risk-averse, and too often because they like to order other people’s lives, both elected and unelected officials easily default to the lockdown position. Yet we know closing the economy and cutting off social interaction is also deadly. Forcing people to shelter at home sends “disruptive economic shockwaves,” says Ethan Yang of the American Institute for Economic Research, and at the same time affects “health care practices needed to combat Covid-19.”

Yang also quotes the late Dr. Donald Henderson, “the man who led the war to kill smallpox,” who wrote in 2006 that “there are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods to slow the spread of influenza.”

Even the Lancet reports that full lockdowns “were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people,” nor were they “associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases.”

Journalist John Tierney believes lockdowns “are surely the most risky experiment ever conducted on the public.”

“From the start, researchers have warned that lockdowns could prove far deadlier than the coronavirus,” he writes in the current issue of City Journal. “People who lose their jobs or businesses are more prone to fatal drug overdoses and suicide, and evidence already exists that many more will die from cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, and tuberculosis and other diseases because the lockdown prevented their ailments from being diagnosed early and treated properly.”

There is no intention here to downplay the coronavirus threat. It causes a deadly disease in some and triggers a serious though not fatal illness to others. But not all. It’s well known who is most vulnerable and who will almost certainly shrug off the virus. Officials should be putting greater efforts into protecting the former, and less into punishing everyone else. The sledgehammer approach has made matters worse.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Photos show unmasked Gavin Newsom attending French Laundry dinner

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing fresh scrutiny for his decision to attend the birthday dinner of a lobbyist earlier this month after photos emerged showing the governor apparently unmasked and in close quarters with a large number of people.

The photos, obtained by Fox 11 Los Angeles and shared on Twitter by reporter Bill Melugin, were circulated widely online on Wednesday.

While Newsom had issued a statement saying he and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom had “followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions,” the photo does not depict any social distancing or other precautions the state has urged.

Newsom apologized for attending the dinner during a press conference on Monday. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee.

The Governor is Not a King

Governor Gavin Newsom has wielded unchecked power throughout the pandemic with the use of executive orders. Unchecked until now, that is. On Friday, Superior Court Judge Sarah H. Heckman issued a permanent injunction declaring that Governor Gavin Newsom’s use of executive orders when they amend or create law is unconstitutional. It seems a pattern of the governor to push the limits of his power in challenging both legislative statutes and laws created by voters.

The court action was sought by Assemblymembers James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) who challenged an executive order that had to do with elections at the time of the pandemic emergency.

But Judge Heckman saw the executive order issue in a much broader context, “whether  the Governor has the authority under the California Emergency Services Act (CESA) to exercise legislative powers by unilaterally amending, altering, or changing exiting statutory law.”

The governor’s lawyers argued that under the police powers vested in the governor during emergencies, he had the right and duty to make adjustments to laws to face the crisis.

The judge didn’t see it that way. She said CESA allows the governor to alter regulations to confront emergencies but does not permit the governor to amend or create laws even in an emergency. The judge pointed to the state Constitution that specifically confers lawmaking powers on the Senate and Assembly or through the people via the initiative and referendum processes.

The note on initiatives and referendums is particularly pertinent in the governor’s case. Gavin Newsom, in his executive roles, has chosen to ignore the laws on the books in pushing his judgment on policy. He did it as Mayor of San Francisco when he called for the licensing of same-sex marriages when the voters had opposed same-sex marriages with Proposition 22 in 2000. Voters supported the California death penalty with Proposition 66 in 2016 while also preventing an effort to repeal the death penalty, but that did not stop Governor Newsom who ordered a moratorium on death penalties while he is governor, and he had the death chamber at San Quentin disassembled.

Clearly, Newsom wants to pull the electorate along on a course he directs. His decree on same-sex marriage was followed by the court and voter acceptance of the same which served as an incentive to Newsom to continue the practice of pushing the envelope despite the law.

The overuse of executive orders is not an action exclusive to Governor Newsom. The past two presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, used executive orders to questionable excess.

But in a nation of laws, the rules must be followed until changed by court mandates or through legislative or popular votes. Making law by executive order is a violation of the state Constitution and the Republican form of government.

Judge Heckman signed a permanent injunction enjoining the governor from exercising power under the California Emergency Services Act “which amends, alters, or changes existing statutory law or makes new statutory law or legislative policy.”

The ongoing argument between executive and legislative branches was critical for the courts to resolve, the judge wrote in her decision.

Which means we will see this battle move on to higher courts. Based on basic principles under which American and state government were conceived, the argument that the executive cannot make law should prevail.

Joel Fox is Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

How America’s Cities Became Bastions of Progressive Politics

In 2016 the American presidential election was not so much blue state versus red state as blue urban centers versus everywhere else. That pattern repeated itself this year, as voting results in the deep blue cities of Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta spelled the difference between a Trump victory and a win for Biden.

Leave it to others to question the legitimacy of votes in these deep blue cities. Suffice to say it would insult the intelligence of any honest observer of politics to suggest no irregularities occurred, when, for example, you have a state with mail-in ballots, accepting them without postmarks or signature verification, and continuing to collect them until November 6 by a court order in Pennsylvania.

And within the sphere of media influencers and social media sleuths, for all those thousands who question such results, there are millions who do not. As one wag put it on Twitter, “there is no evidence of widespread journalism.”

Four years ago, the New York Times published a revealing graphic, reproduced below. It shows, in shades ranging from deep blue (Clinton) to deep red (Trump), how every county in the United States voted. The quantity of votes in each county corresponds to the height of that county in this 3D graph. Notice the dramatic disparity in demographic impact by county.

As this 3D map makes obvious, back in 2016 only a few cities became decisive factors in Clinton’s popular-vote victory—Seattle, Miami, New York City, and most prominently, Los Angeles and Chicago. In Los Angeles County, Clinton received 1,893,770 votes versus 620,285 for Trump. In Chicago’s Cook County, Clinton received 1,528,582 votes versus 440,213 for Trump. If either of these two counties—either one of them—were taken out of the equation, the popular vote would have been a toss-up.

This pattern repeats itself across the United States, and clearly there is a political and cultural schism today between America’s urban voters and rural voters. If a similar graphic is produced for the 2020 presidential election, it won’t look much different from this one. But what political forces are exploiting and exacerbating this schism? Why is the split between America’s urban voters and rural voters more dramatic than it’s ever been? If you want to answer this question from a historical perspective, look no further than the single most powerful special interest that has dominated nearly every major city in America for over a generation—public sector unions.

In Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, and hundreds of other major American cities, government unions have exercised near-absolute control over the political process. This extends not only to city councils but also to county boards of supervisors, school boards, and special districts ranging from transit systems to departments of water and power. Most government funding is spent at the local level. Most government jobs are at the local level. And the more local these jurisdictions get, the more likely it is that only the government unions have the money and the will to dominate elections.

In America’s cities, where the union agenda that controls public education trains Americans to be hyper-sensitive to any alleged infringements on their “identity,” big government is presented as the guardian of their futures and their freedoms. In America’s cities, where poor education combined with overregulation has resulted in a paucity of good jobs, welfare and entitlement programs are presented as the government’s answer. And the more poverty and social instability we have in America, the bigger government gets. When society loses, government unions win.

What Changed Between 2016 and 2020

For years, a precarious balance of power existed, even to some extent in these big cities, between the power of the public sector unions and the power of other corporate and monied special interests. But between 2016 and 2020 that balance of power was shattered. Several causes can be identified, many already well underway even in 2016.

First, corporations increasingly realized their profits and market share were boosted by embracing a leftist agenda. The leftist open-borders agenda allows labor-intensive companies to import low-wage, low-skill workers, and allows the knowledge-intensive companies in Silicon Valley to import low-wage, high-skill labor. The leftist preference for global citizenship over national allegiance allows multinational corporations to export jobs under a cloak of moral authority. The leftist agenda to micromanage the economy in order to address the “climate crisis” is a goldmine for corporations who want captive markets, and a weapon they can wield against smaller emerging competitors lacking the resources to comply with the overregulation.

As for woke politics of all kinds, corporations are indifferent. If spouting these mantras is all it takes for them to maintain their detente with the Left, they’re all in.

In all these areas, Donald Trump opposed the agenda shared by the Left and by corporate America. In a stunning inversion of reality, the people who want to dismantle American institutions joined with institutional America to convince voters Donald Trump was a menace. Almost overnight, the urban political machines, controlled by leftist government employee unions, saw their biggest enemies turned into allies.

There’s more, of course. In 2016, the rapidly consolidating Big Tech companies that controlled social media and search had not finished weaponizing their political bias into actual suppression of pro-Trump online discourse.

In 2016, Trump’s supporters made better use of what were still largely neutral platforms than Clinton’s supporters, which helped the Trump campaign. Between 2016 and 2020, two things happened: First, in a series of escalating waves of deplatforming, deboosting, demonetizing, search results manipulation, biased trending items and news feeds, and, late in the game, blatant censorship, the online momentum of the Trump campaign was decisively undermined.

Second, during the same period, the sheer financial power of the Big Tech monopolies, already almost unimaginably wealthy, increased even more. Four years ago, Amazon shares traded around $760. Today, they’re running more than $3,130 per share. Facebook shares in the last four years have more than doubled from $115 to $276 per share. Google? Up from $760 to $1,752. Twitter? More than tripling from $18 to $43.

Where there’s burgeoning wealth and unbridled political passion, there are donations to candidates. Not only donations from diehard leftist billionaires like Jack Dorsey or Jeff Bezos, but also from hundreds of employees of these companies who have themselves become multimillionaires. Collectively, according to Wiredmore than 95 percent of their donations went to Joe Biden. As Vox crowed on October 30, “people who live in the nine counties considered to be in the San Francisco Bay Area gave 22 percent more to Democrats in 2020 than they did in 2016, a jump from about $163 million to $199 million.”

The Next Phase, Urban Anarchy, Has Already Begun

When you’re making so much money in salary and stock options that money is practically an abstraction, you may think you empathize with the consequences of rabid leftism—even if you really don’t. The big corporations and their extraordinarily privileged employees may beat their chests and proclaim their compassion, but the politicians and the policies they’ve supported have accomplished the exact opposite.

The obligations of compassion, unfortunately for the corporate Left and public sector unions, do not mean that anything ought to be tolerated. It is not compassionate to permit heroin and methamphetamine addicts to openly practice their habit, nor is it compassionate to tolerate theft and vandalism because those who engage in these activities may be disadvantaged or feel disenfranchised. And if the hordes of addicts and thieves and rioters who have created lawless enclaves in every major American city were turned loose in the gated suburbs of the leftist elites, who can doubt their compassion would be redirected within hours into more effective avenues?

As it is, however, the Democratic machine is methodically turning over larger and larger swaths of America’s cities to anarchy. The riots of the last six months which convulsed cities across America and look to be ongoing in Portland and Seattle, if not elsewhere, are only the most recent expressions of this anarchy. The out-of-control homeless populations in countless American cities, especially in California, are the true harbingers of anarchy in America.

In the name of compassion, Californians have legalized vagrancy and hard drug use, and effectively decriminalized petty theft up to $950 per day. They have also overregulated the construction industry, making it impossible to build housing without subsidies. In general they have overregulated all economic activity in the state, which has driven out small businesses and created the highest cost-of-living in America. The consequences for California’s cities are predictable: a homeless population of well over 150,000 people, with no effective legal means of separating the truly unfortunate from the criminals and predators. Law-abiding residents of these anarchic zones are terrified and besieged.

In Los Angeles, the 2020 election results indicate these problems will only get worse. George Gascón, a progressive backed by George Soros, has unseated incumbent Jackie Lacey to become the new Los Angeles County district attorney. That Los Angeles voters could choose a candidate who promises to increase and expedite policies that have created this mess is inexplicable, until you reflect on the power of rhetoric and money over cold reality.

This combination, compassionate rhetoric backed up by billions in political donations, remains the reason America’s cities, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, are barely governable and set to get even more ungovernable.

Americans residing in blue cities vote for Democrats because unless the rioting or the homeless anarchy is on their street, or in their neighborhood, they don’t see it. The media doesn’t cover it, or if they do, they frame it so as to highlight the truly disadvantaged instead of the dangerous predators, and to emphasize the genuinely aggrieved instead of the opportunistic vandals and looters. The politicians know that business as usual enriches corrupt developers on the ground, while attracting almost limitless political donations from people too wealthy and too ideologically committed to support any solution that might be remotely construed as right-wing.

And as things go from bad to worse, in order to cope with the disorder, public sector unions demand more money and more members. For them, a breakdown in civil order is a business opportunity. Their interests are inherently in conflict with the public interest. And their new allies add strength to what was already quite strong enough.

There are choices politicians could offer voters and attorneys could argue in court: House the homeless in supervised tent encampments located in inexpensive parts of cities. Require sobriety and job training in exchange for further assistance. Lock up people who commit vandalism or physical assaults. Break up the social networks that have facilitated the extraordinary coordination of rioting, destruction of property, looting, and “peaceful protests.” Lower the threshold at which petty theft is decriminalized. Make public intoxication a crime punishable by jail time. Stop the scam of paying developers over a half-million dollars to construct a single apartment for one homeless person.

These commonsense solutions would solve the problem of anarchy and homelessness within a few months, without costing anything more than the policies currently being applied that are only making these problems worse. But they would have to be sold to voters who have finally had enough. Unfortunately, we’re still well short of seeing that happen.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

California Lawmakers Head To Maui With Lobbyists Despite Pandemic, Travel Warnings

The pandemic may have “canceled” 2020, but it did not derail an annual gathering of lobbyists and lawmakers on the shores of Maui that brought people from across the country to a luxury resort this week.

Roughly 100 people from four states converged at the Fairmont Kea Lani for a four-day legislative conference organized by the Independent Voter Project, said the group’s chair and executive director, Dan Howle.

The 18th annual event was a third of its regular size, Howle said, but it still drew nearly 20 lawmakers from California, Texas and Washington state. The theme? How to reopen states’ economies amid the public health crisis.

Howle said he was not concerned about the public health implications of bringing people from around the country together because of the stringent requirements in Hawaii’s mandatory Safe Travels program. To avoid a lengthy quarantine, visitors must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

“It really doesn’t matter where you’re coming from as long as you have a negative Covid test before you arrive here,” he said.

But tests aren’t infalliable; they could provide the wrong result or fail to catch coronavirus during the incubation period. And there are risks to traveling because visitors could still face exposure on the island and bring the virus home.

The event comes amid a worrisome surge in infections across the country and new travel restrictions on the West Coast, and as many schools and businesses remain closed.

It also follows revelations by the San Francisco Chronicle that Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a 12-person birthday party at an exclusive Napa Valley restaurant, the French Laundry. …

Click here to read the full article from Politico.

Will Tax-Hikers Finally Get The Message?

Although election results are not yet official, it is clear that Proposition 15, the $12 billion property tax hike also known as “split roll,” has failed. But, true to form, the proponents are not giving up their 42-year goal of destroying Proposition 13.

Recall that the proponents – mostly public-sector labor interests – had huge advantages in this battle: A massive turnout of Democratic voters who loathed the current president, a deceptive ballot label that was devoid of the words “tax increase,” a presumably vulnerable target in the form of business property owners and a seemingly endless amount of campaign cash.

But even all those advantages were not enough to push split roll over the finish line. So what are tax raisers going to do now? The first and most obvious answer is that they will try again to pass their failed split roll proposal. In fact, it was only moments after the election was called against Prop. 15 that the spokesperson for Evolve California, a far-left nonprofit that advocates for the destruction of Proposition 13 stated, “We’re really close to having a majority of California voters agreeing with us. It took us 42 years to get this point and so if it takes another two to four years to get where we want to be, then that’s what it is.”

It is unclear what makes the proponents of Proposition 15 believe that the results would be any different in a political environment that is unlikely to be as favorable to them as this one. Their excuses for failure don’t make a lot of sense. For example, they blame the pandemic for the defeat and rationalize that, in the next fight, COVID-19 will be far behind us. But this argument runs counter to their own campaign ads which repeatedly relied on the pandemic as a reason why local governments and schools actually needed the funds. Although pundits will speculate endlessly about the impact of the pandemic on Prop. 15’s demise, at best, it was probably a wash for both sides.

To read the full article, please click here.

More High-Dollar Ballot Measures in 2022

Much has been said and written about the hundreds of millions of dollars spent for and against the dozen statewide measures on this month’s ballot.

Big money? Yes, but it was really just chicken feed, because the stakes in those ballot battles were infinitely greater.

Take, for instance, Proposition 15, a battle between a union-led coalition that proposed the measure, and a business coalition. Had Proposition 15 passed, it would have generated roughly $10 billion a year for schools and local governments. That’s about 66 times as much as the one-time spending for and against the measure.

Other than the scale, there was nothing unusual this year about the lopsided risk-reward aspect of major ballot measures, and it will fuel another round of conflicts two years hence. There are at least four high-dollar ballot measures headed for the 2022 ballot:

MICRA—In 1975, Jerry Brown signed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act or MICRA, placing a $250,000 cap on damages for what were called “pain and suffering” in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Consumer advocates and personal injury lawyers have attempted numerous times in the Legislature to modify the law, contending that it protects bad medical care providers and short-changes their innocent patients. Providers and their insurers have turned back each challenge, saying that removing the cap would raise medical costs. …

Click here to read the full article from CalMatters.org.

Picking Senator Harris’ Replacement After Proposition 16’s Defeat

The suggestions of a replacement for California Senator Kamala Harris when she resigns to assume the office of Vice-President are piling up. Most come from interest groups with rationales that one of their own deserve the prized senate seat primarily based on the candidate’s identification with a demographic group. All this sounds contradictory in a state where voters just rejected the idea of choosing people for positions based on their identity. 

African Americans say Harris’s seat should be filled by a Black like her. Harris also has Asian roots and the Asian American Chamber of Commerce has written to the governor with a list of names from that community. Latinos argue they deserve the seat in a state in which Latinos outnumber other ethnicities; the LGBTQ community has spoken up for one of their own; and women organizations say Kamala Harris must be replaced by a woman. 

Strategist Liz Mair, who studied the possible seat-fillers, said she would bet on Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia who is Latino, gay, accomplished and young. And by the way an early endorser of Newsom’s gubernatorial run. 

Newsom is known as a person who likes to “make history.” Appointing the first Latino or first gay person to the senate would fit that approach.

But why all this attention in choosing a U.S. senator on how that individual is classified? 

Didn’t the voters pass on an opportunity to repeal the affirmative action ban from the state constitution? 

While not exactly the same thing, lifting the ban would allow consideration of race and gender in college application and contracting. If the first box that has to be checked in a senate application is race, gender or nationality that seems to go against the will of the people. 

Not that Newsom has let the will of the people be a barrier in the direction he wants to lead. Most recently, he ignored the affirmation of the death penalty by California voters when he announced no death penalty punishments on his watch. 

Choosing a senator by certain characteristics not only goes against the Proposition 16 vote to cancel the effort to remove the affirmative action ban, it also provides a headache for the governor. By selecting a person from a specific group, emphasizing that the selection was guided by the person’s identity with the group, he will upset other interests who did not have a favorite son or daughter chosen. 

Once again, I offer a solution to the governor to avoid this dilemma. Appoint a grizzled California veteran pol to hold the Harris seat until the next election, then all the interests that want to see someone from their group get the job can run for the open seat. In that way, policy, not identity, would come to the fore as candidates seek votes from the mosaic of California voters.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Performance Matters Most: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap

Last week, Californians had the opportunity to return preferential treatment based on race — affirmative action — to the state’s public institutions. In 1996, they amended their state constitution to deny preferential treatment based on race, gender, or national origin. Proposition 16, on the ballot on November 3, would have reversed that amendment, giving local and state organizations the option to consider an applicant’s race. But Golden State voters soundly defeated it, maintaining race-neutral processes.

The debate surrounding Prop. 16 was highly contentious, particularly concerning higher-education admissions. Numerous organizations, including several Asian-American advocacy groups, criticized the proposal as discriminatory and unmeritocratic. Asian students markedly outperform white, black, and Latino students on standardized tests and would benefit from a purely meritocratic system. Consequently, many feared that reintroducing affirmative action would unjustly lower the number of Asian students admitted to the state’s public universities.

Proposition supporters, from Governor Gavin Newsom to the American Federation of Teachers, countered by asserting that black and Latino students were at a profound disadvantage in admissions. The consideration of race in college admissions, they said, was necessary to the promotion of diversity in higher education. In addition, proponents pointed to how some minority beneficiaries of race-conscious admissions went on to earn higher salaries than they might otherwise have done.

These defenses, whatever one thinks of them, don’t address the racial achievement gap, which affirmative action can do little about. Undoubtedly, students of color exiting high school and entering college are often disadvantaged compared with their white counterparts, and greater attention is needed to close the gap. But this problem develops years before a student is ready to apply to college.

For decades, racial achievement gaps have been relatively stable across academic metrics. Data trends from the National Center for Education Statistics show that even as average high school GPAs increase, GPA gaps by race remain. Both SAT and ACT gaps between black and Latino test takers and white test takers have been relatively stable. National NAEP scores in reading and math show nearly unmoving gaps in performance across fourth, eighth, and 12th grades. In California, state tests in English Language Arts and math reveal substantial gaps in proficiency. While nationwide racial gaps in college enrollment have narrowed in recent years, college graduation gaps have not.

Advocates of race-conscious admissions claim that standardized tests are biased in favor of those who come from more privileged backgrounds. People in higher-income families have access to better schools and specialized tutors and are therefore expected to outperform minority and low-income students on standardized assessments.

True, household income is highly predictive of academic achievement, and the quality of schooling prior to college matters significantly. But standardized tests also remain consistently predictive of academic achievement, regardless of race. They are one of the most objective tools admissions officers have to assess readiness. Besides, race-neutral admissions in California have not turned a blind eye to disparities in hardship and privilege. The University of California system offers statewide and local guarantees to the top students in the state’s high school graduating classes. This initiative promotes geographical diversity, ensuring that students in rural, urban, and suburban areas gain access to the state’s best public universities. And though selective private universities have been criticized for championing diversity while maintaining legacy admissions, the University of California system does not consider legacy in admissions.

Well-intentioned efforts to increase black and Latino higher-education enrollment rates cannot change a stubborn reality: the only way to close performance gaps is to improve performance. If racial-justice advocates want to overcome racial disparities in educational attainment and proficiency, they should concentrate their efforts on minority students in their younger years.

Brandon McCoy is the project manager of education policy at the Manhattan Institute.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.