Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s new program to give $500 per month to 600 poor “BIPOC” (black, indigenous and people of color) families is a flagrant violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, includes the Equal Protection Clause in Section 1, providing that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” A century-and-a-half of jurisprudence has established that if any government discriminates among citizens on the basis of race, its policy must meet the standard of “strict scrutiny:” it can only do to to achieve a “compelling governing interest,” and must be “narrowly tailored” to do so.
Oakland’s policy fails that test. The new “pilot” program, as described by Mayor Libby Schaaf, aims to repeat an experiment in “universal basic income” first tried in Stockton, California. But that program did not discriminate on the basis of race; the only selection criteria were that “recipients had to be at least 18 years old, reside in Stockton, and live in a neighborhood with a median income at or below $46,033.” The 125 households that received the grant were chosen randomly, through the mail.
Schaaf’s program will serve “BIPOC” people “with low incomes and at least 1 child under 18, regardless of documentation status.” It claims that “BIPOC” groups are those that suffer “the greatest wealth disparities.” The program has two separate tiers of “low-income” groups; participants will be screened through “considerable community outreach” and an online form. Only then will the qualifying families be chosen “randomly” to receive the monthly cash payments, for up to 18 months.
Even if, for argument’s sake, reducing wealth disparity in the San Francisco Bay area is a “compelling government interest,” the Oakland policy is not narrowly tailored to achieve it. A poor white person suffers just as much from “disparity” as a poor black person. As Breitbart News’ John Nolte points out, citing the Daily Mail, “around 8 percent of the city’s white residents, approximately 10,000 people, live in poverty.” Oakland’s new program discriminates against each and every one of them.
Schaaf claimed that Oakland’s project, called the “Oakland Resilient Families,” will “undo centuries of economic and racial injustice, and point us all toward a more just society.” But it will do the opposite by reintroducing racial discrimination.
It is worth noting that Schaaf, for all her “wokeness,” was targeted by Black Lives Matter activists during last summer’s riots. They vandalized her home with racial messages and slogans supporting the “Defund the Police” movement. Her new policy reads as an attempt to appease a racially-motivated mob that defies the legitimate authorities.
That is exactly how the South worked during Jim Crow: white racist vigilantes enforced a code that superseded the law. That is Schaaf’s true precedent.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new novel, Joubert Park, tells the story of a Jewish family in South Africa at the dawn of the apartheid era. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, recounts the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.