Magazine article University Business

Affirmative Action and Michigan, Part Two

Magazine article University Business

Affirmative Action and Michigan, Part Two

Article excerpt

THE STATE OF MICHIGAN IS AT the center of a heated affirmative action debate again, except this time the judges are state residents, not black-robed jurists on the U.S. Supreme Court.

On November 7, voters in Michigan will have an opportunity to pass or nix Proposal 2, also known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. The proposal would prohibit state and local governments from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the areas of public employment, contracting, and education.

The initiative to get MCRI on the ballot first emerged in 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the University of Michigan could continue using race as a factor in its admissions. California businessman Ward Connerly, the figure behind similar ballot measures in California and Washington, recruited Jennifer Gratz, a lead plaintiff in one of the Michigan cases, to head up a ballot movement in the Wolverine State.

One organization, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary (BAMN), has tried to keep Proposal 2 off the ballot due to alleged fraud in the original gathering of petition signatures. In August, U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow did find "systematic voter fraud" in the petition-gathering (residents were allegedly told they were signing a petition that supported affirmative action). But he opted to keep the measure on the ballot because the fraudulent practices did not violate the federal Voting Rights Act. …

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