States certainly have the right to repeal previously enacted race-based affirmative action programs. As Professors Amar and Caminker point out, however, a rarely discussed line of Supreme Court authority identifies some federal constitutional limitations on the ways in which states may effect repeal. The most coherent and sophisticated reading of this line of cases suggests the following: When a state law not only repeals programs that specially benefit racial minorities, but also entrenches that repeal by making reenactment of those programs in the future particularly difficult, such a law runs contrary to the Equal Protection Clause. Taking these cases as given, Amar and Caminker apply them to the so-called California Civil Rights Initiative ("CCRI"), which appears as Proposition 209 on this November's California ballot. The authors conclude that these cases, which are presently the law of the land and binding on lower courts, cut strongly against the constitutionality of the CCRI.
Vikram D. Amar and Evan H. Caminker,
Equal Protection, Unequal Political Burdens, and the CCRI,
23 Hastings Const. L.Q. 1019
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_constitutional_law_quaterly/vol23/iss4/3