A Call to Action: Judicial Recourse to Countering SB 403 While it Legislates in California
A call to action. Email your concerns about SB 403
By Abhijit Bagal and Richa Gautam
Abhijit Bagal, legal analyst at Caste Files discusses a judicial recourse with the Office of Legislative Affairs at the California Department of Justice while the bill SB 403 is still not law. This is part II of a two-part series. To read PART I, click here.
In 2021, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced his new executive team for the California Department of Justice. Amy Alley became the Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs tasked with high-level policy advisory in the development and advocacy of legislation. Since the Office of Legislative Affairs develops, analyzes, tracks, and advocates legislative proposals of interest to the Attorney General’s office, and SB 403 is still a pending legislation, concerns, and complaints about SB 403 should immediately be directed to this Office.
The concerned citizens and organizations opposing SB 403 have only increased since the bill passed the senate floor, and as California residents get an update on the deeper layers of discrimination that envelope the benign sounding bill. Over 15,000 U.S. residents have signed a petition started by California community leader Ritesh Tandon. Number of large and diverse organizations like the hotelier association AAHOA and Jewish group “Stand with Us” and African American groups like AANKC of Kern County have denounced SB 403, along with many Indian American organizations.
Concerned Citizens Call to Action: Email your concerns regarding SB 403
Hello Director Alley,
There is widespread opposition to SB 403, a bill that is not facially neutral and appears to target minority immigrant communities like South Asians, Southeast Asians and African Americans. The existing civil rights act, which covers all forms of discrimination, is being tampered with the new amendment instituted by SB 403. Please take the necessary steps as legal experts have found 12 key reasons why this bill is unconstitutional. The Bill:
- Fails a facial neutrality challenge.
- Violates the Equal Protection Clause.
- Violates the Establishment Clause.
- Violates the Free Exercise Clause.
- Is superfluous because existing laws already cover caste discrimination under ancestry, national origin, ethnicity, and other categories. This is clearly mentioned in the proposed bill.
- Is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest, therefore, fails to meet the strict scrutiny test.
- Is adamant on using the term “caste” which is foreign rather than a more neutral term like "Inherited Social Status or Class" (which covers caste).
- Violates the Unruh Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code Section 51) by adding a new form of discrimination, targeting certain ethnic groups.
- Is Unconstitutionally Vague as caste has no known consistent definition anywhere in the world.
- Will fail an illicit motive challenge as discussed in our previous legal analysis
- Shows Conflict of Interest with the activist organization behind the caste legislations, Equality Labs, a for-profit company conducting fee-based “Caste Competency” training.
- Will contradict the Judicial Notice as Equality Labs report submissions were deemed inadmissible by Judge Takaichi during the Cisco caste discrimination case hearing. There are zero existing cases of caste-based discrimination in California, now that Cisco case against the two engineers has been dismissed with prejudice. Yet these same reports are being used to discuss SB 403.
No court has endorsed an anti-discrimination policy directed to a class of purported discriminators rather than a class discriminated against. Citizens of California are looking for legal recourse and we request the office of the legislative affairs to intervene and weigh in, so that California is not caught in a legal quagmire of class action lawsuits against the state for unconstitutionality and a discriminatory law.