On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors expressed “unanimous” support for the draft proposal presented by the Gavin Newsom-created Reparations Task Force, which recommends giving $5,000,000 to the Black residents of the city. San Francisco has around 50,000 Black residents, which is about six percent of the population. Despite widespread criticism, as well as the Hoover Institution at Stanford University calculating that the proposal would cost at least $600,000 to each of the remaining non-Black San Francisco residents, the SF BOS said, “Hold my beer.” The board also felt that it would be a good idea to offer other forms of reparations, like an annual income of $97,000 for 250 years and a home for just $1.00 per family, according to CBS News.
Led by Supervisor Shamann Walton, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors created the 15-member reparations committee in late 2020, months after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on the statewide task force amid national turmoil after a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, a Black man. The hearing was scheduled for February but was postponed to Tuesday.
The committee’s final report is due in June, and there’s no timeline for San Francisco to act on the recommendations. At Tuesday’s hearing, the board could direct staff to conduct further research, write legislation or schedule more meetings.
Senior attorney Wen Fa of Pacific Legal Foundation is not waiting until the SF BOS turns this proposal into binding law, and is presently putting together the building blocks to combat it. Fa explained the problematic requirements within the proposal, and why it will not pass constitutional muster:
“A draft proposal in San Francisco by the San Francisco Reparations Committee that would give every eligible applicant $5 million in payouts. And to be eligible, it depends on the color of your skin.
“You have to be a Black resident for at least 13 years in San Francisco, and you have to have personally identified as a Black resident in documents at least 10 years prior. And I think this just goes to this sort of business of dividing us up by race by saying that we’re entitled to benefits based not on our individual characteristics, our individual aspirations, achievements and ability, but based on the color of our skin.
“I think that is just wrong and that is something that the Supreme Court has said over and over again is patently unconstitutional.”
Fa not only expressed moral opposition to this proposal, but should the SF BOS vote to approve it, his organization will bring a case against it on constitutional grounds.
“Now, we would have to wait to see what gets adopted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This is going to be up before the Board of Supervisors in June of fthis year.”
In the meantime, Fa is asking that San Francisco residents contact him. Particularly those who:
“do not qualify because of the color of their skin. Who think that the fundamental promise of equality before the law is an important one. Who believe that the government should not just be giving handouts of millions of dollars to each individual, but should be rather tearing down barriers to opportunity. Unnecessary licensing regimes, permitting regimes, things that make it hard for individuals to earn a living. That is really the path forward.”
The promise of equality before the law "has taken time to blossom; our nation has struggled through its own troubled history on race. But we do not overcome that past by sorting people into creditor races and debtor races. We do it by looking beyond race to the individual." https://t.co/UhLtzODE11
— Wen Fa (@wenfa1) February 27, 2023
From a constitutional standpoint, why is this reparations proposal on shaky ground? Because despite all the other criteria, the main criteria is that it excludes on the basis of race. I am old enough to remember that an entire Civil Rights movement was built on eliminating this evil, among other things.
“I think the main criteria is that you have to have been a San Francisco resident for 13 years and then there are a host of other criteria, but that’s the main one. If someone [who is not Black] fits that bill, reach out to me. They can find me on the Pacific Legal website, at Pacific Legal dot Org. They can e-mail me at [email protected] They can find me on Twitter @WenFa1. I am an easy person to find and I am proud to have stood to have fought for the constitutional rights of many clients and courts across the country in fighting for their fundamental right to equality before the law.”
Not only is there the presenting problem that California’s entry into the union was as a free state, but other minority groups have clear cases of discrimination on the basis of race as well—whether that be Chinese and Japanese Americans or Native Americans—so why isolate the grievance-mongering to one racial group? In a sensible world, this commission and its proposal should be a non-starter, but this is California, with a governor whose warped sense of leadership currently rules the day.
Fa further explained:
“We certainly hope that it falls by the wayside, because this is patently unconstitutional and morally unjust. But we have seen government entities adopting some outrageous laws in the name of equity—what they view as equity.
“We’ve seen farm loan forgiveness programs adopted by the Biden administration that says if you are a white farmer, you are categorically excluded from farm loan forgiveness that everybody else is entitled to. We have seen COVID relief programs that excluded businesses regardless of, you know, what kind of businesses they are or whether they have suffered actual impacts from COVID. They have excluded those businesses from relief on the basis that their owner was of the wrong race. So, we’ve seen programs like this unfortunately adopted all over the country, and if San Francisco would be willing to adopt this in the summer of this year, I think there will be legal challenges. I think we would love to stand up for individuals who want to stand up for their constitutional rights.”
Bottom line: These moves will benefit no one—least of all Black residents in San Francisco or anywhere else in California.
“California has a severe budget crisis. We have the highest taxes anywhere in the country and you know there are better solutions than the government. There are barriers that I see all the time enacted by the state of California that prevent individuals from earning a living. The government should focus on that, instead of spending taxpayer funds on $5,000,000 to each qualified individual on the basis of race.”
If you are a resident of San Francisco and wish to partner with Pacific Legal Foundation, visit their website, or connect with Wen Fa through email or on Twitter.
The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.