1951 - 1990

Women: 1972

Voters pass an initiative adding a guarantee of privacy to the California Constitution; this amendment later becomes the basis to protect a woman’s right to choose.

State supreme court, in People v. Barksdale, eliminates the section of the Therapeutic Abortion Act requiring women to appear before a 3-doctor panel.

Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment; California is one of the states that ratifies it.  However, it was never added to the Constitution as it failed to receive ratification from 38 states within the allotted period of time.

Dissent: 1972

Black Panthers HeadquartersBlack Panthers HeadquartersLos Angeles Black Panther leader Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt is wrongfully convicted of murdering a young woman in Santa Monica.


See part of a 60 Minutes story on Pratt:


Criminal Justice: 1972

California Supreme Court rules in People v. Anderson that the death penalty violates the state constitutional provision prohibiting cruel or unusual punishment. As a result, 107 inmates are removed from death row and re-sentenced to life imprisonment.

U.S. Supreme Court rules in Furhman v. Georgia that the death penalty is not being applied in a constitutional manner because capital punishment standards vary widely from state to state. The decision effectively places a moratorium on capital punishment until states devise practices that pass constitutional standards.

Voters pass Proposition 17 restoring capital punishment in California. But the death penalty is not enforced because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Furhman ruling.

Disability Rights: 1972

Roberts and GallowayRoberts and GallowayStudents involved with the UC Berkeley Physically Disabled Students Program found the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Berkeley, which becomes a model for similar programs throughout the country.

Censorship: 1973

Ruling in Miller v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court alters the obscenity standard again, making obscenity convictions easier to obtain.

Women: 1973

State court of appeal reverses the convictions of three abortion advocates convicted in 1969, ruling that the law barring distribution of information violates the First Amendment.

Disability Rights: 1973

President Richard Nixon signs the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which includes Section 504, outlawing discrimination against people with disabilities in all federally-funded programs. Section 504 is the first federal civil rights law protecting people with disabilities. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) stalls on issuing regulations for implementation of Section 504.

Labor: 1973

Mourner at funeral of Juan de la CruzMourner at funeral of Juan de la CruzAfter the UFW’s initial contract expires, many growers sign backdoor “sweetheart” contracts with the Teamsters Union, often without the vote of workers. In response, the UFW sets up pickets. Thugs hired by the Teamsters threaten and harass the strikers. Twenty-four year old Yemeni immigrant Nagi Daifullah is killed by a Kern County deputy sheriff. Two days later 60-year-old Filipino immigrant Juan de la Cruz is shot and killed while picketing.

Disability Rights: 1974

Legislature adds people with disabilities to groups covered by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Immigrants' Rights: 1974

In a case arising out of Chinese immigrant students in San Francisco not being taught English, the U.S. Supreme court rules in Lau v. Nichols that public schools officials must guarantee that students of a particular race, color or national origin are given the opportunity for an education generally obtained by other students. If students do not understand English, merely providing them the same teachers, textbooks, curriculum, and facilities as other students is not enough.


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