Magazine article Colorlines Magazine

Lose in Court? Take It to the Ballot Box. Michigan Opponents of Affirmative Action Were Defeated in the Judicial System but Called on Ward Connerly to Help Them Win Voters

Magazine article Colorlines Magazine

Lose in Court? Take It to the Ballot Box. Michigan Opponents of Affirmative Action Were Defeated in the Judicial System but Called on Ward Connerly to Help Them Win Voters

Article excerpt

IN NOVEMBER, MICHIGAN VOTERS approved Proposal 2, barring state entities, including colleges, from considering race as a factor in school admissions and job contracts. Some people, however, might have thought they were voting in favor of affirmative action and equity for communities of color. That's partly because Prop 2 was called the "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative," and in getting the initiative on the ballot, the group sponsoring it misled voters, according to a federal judge.

Michigan became the center of the affirmative action debate in 2003 as the Supreme Court considered two lawsuits against the University of Michigan. Jennifer Gratz, a white woman, sued the school on the grounds that she had been discriminated against because the school considered race as a factor in a student's application. Gratz lost that fight. The Supreme Court ruled that school officials couldn't assign points based on someone's race, but they could consider race as a factor in admissions.

According to Gratz, she picked up the phone after losing that fight and called Ward Connerly, the former University of California Regent who spearheaded Prop 209, which banned affirmative action from California state colleges in 1996. Connerly had already taken the fight to Washington in 1998 and won there. Both states have seen a drop in admissions of Black students into their most selective state colleges.

Having lost in the judicial system and seeing Connerly's wins in elections, Gratz decided to give it a try. …

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