Famed liberal lawyer and commentator Alan Dershowitz is raising questions about an apparently race-based decision by the city of San Francisco to dismiss its longtime – and long-praised – elections chief.
Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, emeritus at Harvard Law School, and wrote at the Gatestone Institute about John Arntz, who has been the city’s elections department chief for 20 years.
“He has been repeatedly praised for his excellent performance at this increasingly important job — important because of so many election challenges and doubts. Just two years ago, the election commission commended him for his ‘incredible leadership,’” he explained.
“But now they are essentially firing him because he is apparently of the wrong race to satisfy their ‘racial equity plan.’”
Arntz was told by the city, “Our decision wasn’t about your performance, but after twenty years we wanted to take action on the city’s racial equity plan and give people an opportunity to compete for a leadership position,” the commentary said.
Derhowitz noted the mayor disagreed with the move, and all 12 managers in Arntz’ department asked that he be kept on.
“But in today’s woke world of identity politics, race trumps meritocracy. ‘Racial equity’ plans are apparently more important than electoral integrity,” Dershowitz said.
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His replacement could, in fact, be good, Dershowitz explained.
“But that is not the point. His contract would clearly have been renewed — he would not have been fired — if he were of an ‘acceptable’ race. But he is not, because he does not meet the criteria for the city’s ‘racial equity plan.’”
While the city said Arntz can “reapply” for his job, this “‘CYA’ tactic does not even pass the giggle test,” Dershowitz said.
“It certainly does not pass the constitutional test, even the one that currently allows universities to place the thumb of racial diversity on the scale of admissions. That test is likely to be changed — perhaps disallowed — even in the context of private universities such as Harvard. The city of San Francisco is a state actor that is constitutionally prohibited from disqualifying job applicants on the basis of race.
“That is precisely what occurred here, despite the phony claim that he can reapply for his job,” he said.
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