News and Commentary
Jan. 14, 2004

News Clips about the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative as of January 14, 2004

Coalition: Don't sign race ballot petitions

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          "A coalition of mainstream business, civic, religious and labor groups said Tuesday that a proposal to ban racial preferences is deceptive and divisive, and asked Michigan voters not to sign petitions to place it on the November ballot.

          "Retired Brig. Gen. Michael Rice, executive director of Citizens for a United Michigan, called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative an anti-civil rights proposal that will muddle Michigan law and create widespread confusion and ill will.
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          "Rice spoke at a news conference with Paul Hillegonds, director of Detroit Renaissance. "This reckless constitutional amendment will create unforeseen, unintended consequences . . . hurting our state's business and economy," said Hillegonds, a former Republican speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives. The coalition includes traditional adversaries like the Michigan Catholic Conference and American Civil Liberties Union.

          "Tuesday's news conference included statements opposing the proposal from Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Melvin Butch Hollowell and Republican Chairman Betsy DeVos. ... Citizens for a United Michigan was formed specifically to oppose the Michigan ballot proposal and is not affiliated with the group of sometimes angry activists BAMN (the coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary), who were highly visible during the U-M litigation. Representatives of BAMN have said they plan to follow petition circulators into the street and discourage potential signers."

Groups band to fight anti-affirmative-action amendment

Last known link to original story:

          "Business groups and other organizations on Tuesday announced plans to fight a Michigan anti-affirmative-action campaign.

          "The opponents, which include Detroit Renaissance Inc., the greater Detroit chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Michigan Catholic Conference and the Detroit branch of the NAACP, said they would work to keep the state constitutional amendment off the November ballot. The Citizens for a United Michigan announced its stand a day after supporters of the amendment launched their petition drive."

MI: Foes plan to stop ballot petition drive

Last known link to original story:

          "A group of religious, civil rights, union and business leaders said Tuesday it is working to derail a petition-gathering effort that would allow voters to decide on the future of affirmative action in universities and other public agencies. Leaders of the coalition, called Citizens for a United Michigan, said they will talk to voters about the possible effects of the constitutional amendment, including less diversity on college campuses and fewer government contracts for minority-owned businesses.

          "Paul Hillegonds, executive director of Detroit Renaissance, said if the proposal gets on the Nov. 2 ballot and is approved, it may make Michigan less desirable to companies because it will mean a less diverse state work force. "It is critical that the leaders of tomorrow have an opportunity to learn to work together, to appreciate each other and to better understand the tapestry of race, culture and gender," he said. "If the ballot proposal is successful, it will be far more difficult for our young people to gain the experience and understanding of diversity at our great universities."

          "Hillegonds and others at Tuesday's news conference in the state Capitol said the U.S. Supreme Court was correct when it decided in June to uphold a general affirmative action program at the University of Michigan law school, but struck down the undergraduate school's points system. Tuesday's news conference came a day after the group that wants to prohibit racial preferences, called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, began collecting the signatures it needs to get the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot. January 14, 2004

          "Foes plan to stop ballot petition drive Affirmative action critical to diversity of work force, they say."

MI: Voters are next hurdle in battle over affirmative action

Last known link to original story:

          "Michigan voters better get ready: It will soon be all but impossible to avoid being asked what you think about affirmative action. Backers of a petition to ban all racial preferences in government hiring and college admissions are trying to beat a six-month clock to collect 317,757 valid signatures to place the issue on the November ballot.

          "The move stems from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June upholding the use of affirmative action in two lawsuits against the University of Michigan. The group, Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, announced its official kickoff Monday. Today, an opposing group will announce its formation, and ask voters not to sign the petitions. It adds up to a heated debate that will last until at least July, when signatures are due."

Ritu Kelotra: Affirmative Action Efforts Strong in 2003: Connerly Goes to Michigan

Last known link to original story:

          "Last year was historic for affirmative action. After decades of controversy, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that use of affirmative action programs in higher education is legal [as long as the use of racial targets and quotas is not too obvious]. 

          "And in October 2003, Californians overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to outlaw racial data collection -- seven years after the same voters decided to outlaw affirmative action [racial preferences and quotas] in the state. On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its landmark ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, concerning the University of Michigan Law School's admissions policies. In a 5 to 4 decision, the majority ruled that [forced] racial diversity was in fact a compelling state interest, and that the University of Michigan Law School's admissions policies were narrowly tailored to fit this compelling interest. ... Karen McGill Lawson, executive director for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, saw the Bollinger ruling as a solid victory for affirmative action. "It put affirmative action on a firm footing," she said. "It was a green light for affirmative action policies in higher education. Without that decision, a whole generation would have been negatively affected."

          "Only days after the [Supreme Court's muddled] June decision, opponents of affirmative action announced their intention to fight it. California businessman and University of California Regent Ward Connerly, who led the successful battle to ban affirmative action [actually, banning racial quotas and 'reverse discrimination'] in California under Proposition 209 and Washington
State in 1996, said he would spearhead similar efforts in Michigan and Colorado to put anti-affirmative-action referenda on the ballots.

          "William L. Taylor, vice chair of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, said that it is important to note that opposition to affirmative action in recent years has not been expressed through legislation. "Interestingly, attacks in recent years have been mainly been in courts and through state initiatives, but not legislative bodies," he said. "Even though there are conservative Republicans controlling Congress right now, they are not in the position to take ideological views. They know that our nation is too diverse." ... Nancy Zirkin, deputy director for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, saw Proposition 54 as part of the "mean wind" blowing against affirmative action. "Proposition 54 was the son -- or daughter -- of Proposition 209," she said. "Basically it was a Step 2 to Prop. 209's Step 1. First the opposition wanted to ban affirmative action, and then they said let's get rid of the data which suggests that there are disparities and problems. Prop. 54 tried to ensure that the information that justifies affirmative action is done away with." While the gubernatorial recall election took center stage in California's October election, Proposition 54 most certainly received a full billing. As soon as it was announced in mid-July that the measure would indeed be on the October ballot, both sides' efforts went into full swing. And despite a tough fight, the numbers spoke for themselves. Ten weeks before the election, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a Field Poll released in July indicated 50 percent of California voters supported the measure and only 29 percent did not. On Election Day, however, after voters had learned more about the measure, 64 percent of the voters opposed Proposition 54 and only 36 percent supported it. "This is not just a great victory for the civil rights of all Californians, but also for preserving equal opportunity throughout the country," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "The coalition that opposed the measure, which included members inside and outside California, did a great job at uniting voters against an effective message -- Proposition 54 was bad for everyone.""

News clips courtesy of AADAP.ORG

Recommended Additional Reading:

Definition:  Affirmative Action

Definition:  Diversity

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