I have lived in six U.S. states during my long lifetime, living for years on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and on the West Coast.

I moved to California two years ago and can testify that it is the most socialistic, government-controlled state in the country.

Recently, though, numerous rays of constitutional rights have shown through: the constitutional right to the privacy of contracts, the right to private property, and the right of all people against discrimination.

These rights were protected by the outcomes of three citizen referendums, not by government.

Constitutional right to privacy of contracts

Article 1, Section 10, of the United States Constitution declares that “no state shall enter into any law ... impairing the obligation of contracts.”

Contracts are mutually agreed-upon private exchanges; when I agree with a contractor to pave my driveway, we exchange my money for his labor and materials.

In California this issue came into focus with Assembly Bill 5 and Proposition 22.

Rideshare drivers wanted to retain their individual freedom as “independent contractors,” but the state government tried to deny this freedom of contract between drivers and paying customers and mandate that drivers be treated as “employees” subject to state labor controls and union obligations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that when a poll “asked 1,000 on-demand drivers whether they would prefer to be full-time employees instead of contractors, only 15 percent of respondents said they’d prefer full-time.”

This is supposed to be a free country, but the state government doesn’t see it that way. California voters, on the other hand, defended freedom.

Voters approved Proposition 22, which “classifies app-based drivers as ‘independent contractors,’ instead of ‘employees,’” thereby protecting the freedom of drivers to continue entering into voluntary contracting arrangements.

The right to private property

Proposition 21 sought to “expand local government’s authority to enact rent control on residential property.” That coercion would have trampled private owners’ rights to their rental properties.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states an individual shall “not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

If approved, Prop 21 would have amounted to a “taking” that required just compensation. If the state government was going to mandate rent control, it should have proposed to reimburse property owners for their financial losses, but it didn’t.

In their wisdom, though, California voters rejected this proposition.

The right of all against discrimination

Proposition 16 was deceptively titled and described on the November ballot, stating it would have “Allow[ed] diversity as a factor in public employment, education, and contracting decisions.”

In reality, the proposition would have authorized public employers, educators, and contractors to discriminate and treat people unequally in the name of advantaging others purely on the basis of their race or sex.

But the 14th Amendment states in part: government may not “deny to any person ... the equal protection of the laws.” This means that you cannot discriminate against anyone or for anyone. All must be treated equally.

There is one other legal matter that should be cited here, related to California’s constitution of California. During the pandemic Gov. Gavin Newsom has unilaterally locked down literally anything he wishes, whenever he wishes, and for however long he wishes.

For this he was sued for exceeding his authority. The judge of the state Superior Court, County of Sutter, ruled on Nov. 2 that the governor unconstitutionally “exercised legislative powers by unilaterally amending, altering, or changing existing statutory law or making new statutory law.” The judge added that the governor’s “executive order ... improperly amended existing statutory law, exceeding the governor’s authority and violating the separation of powers.”

California State University students are now mandated to take a course on ethnic studies. Maybe, instead, the course should be on the U.S. Constitution to fend against bad government proposals.