The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the Board of State Canvassers should approve petitions that would put an initiative to end affirmative action on the November 2006 ballot. The elections board had neither approved nor rejected the petitions this summer, as there was a tie vote, and the misleadingly named Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) took this lack of decision to court. Opponents of the proposal believe that a significant number of signatures for the initiative were obtained by misrepresentation, according to the Detroit Free Press.
MCRI, an effort being led by former University of California regent Ward Connerly, proposes a ballot initiative that would end almost all government-sponsored affirmative action programs for women and people of color. Wade Henderson, the executive director of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights (LCCR), said “Ward Connerly’s deliberately deceptive ballot initiative would effectively roll back the promise of equal opportunity for women and minorities in Michigan. Further, it is an attempt to subvert the 2003 Supreme Court decision (Grutter v. Bollinger) to uphold equal opportunity across the country.” LCCR is joined by many civil rights and women’s rights groups in One United Michigan, a coalition aiming to defend affirmative action in Michigan.
Connerly led the unfortunately successful Proposition 209 campaign in California, which was opposed by a broad coalition of women’s rights and civil rights groups, including the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, the YWCA, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. As the Michigan initiative is attempting to do, Proposition 209 effectively ended affirmative action in government hiring, public contracting, and college admissions in California.