Voters Are Backing State Constitutional Amendment to Ban Racial Discrimination

In this Tuesday, June 2, 2020 file photo, demonstrators chant, at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, who was killed May 25 by Minneapolis police (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By The Keystone Staff, Associated Press

May 19, 2021

The proposal had about 71% of the vote in support of it, according to unofficial results on Wednesday morning.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania voters are backing a state constitutional amendment that would outlaw discrimination based on race and ethnicity.

The proposal had about 71% of the vote in support of it, according to unofficial results on Wednesday morning.

This might be the first time since last summer’s protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — and other innocent Black people across the country — that voters in any state have decided a racial equity issue on a statewide ballot.

Constitutional law professors say it will have little practical effect because courts already consider racial and ethnic discrimination to violate both the state and federal constitutions.

But state Sen. Vince Hughes (D-Philadelphia) told ABC27 that the extra layer of protection matters.

“We are denied access to banking, healthcare, education, work opportunities, things of that nature. We need additional protections,” Hughes said. “We can’t just depend upon what’s currently in existence.”

Hughes has also said that the measure is also important in case federal anti-discrimination case law is undercut by the Republican-majority US Supreme Court or other federal judges appointed by former President Donald Trump.

It will become the state constitution’s fourth equality provision, added to “all men are born equally free and independent,” a protection from discrimination in exercising civil rights, and a 1971 amendment that ensures gender equality.


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