The Michigan Board of Canvassers on Friday approved language for an anti-affirmative action ballot initiative to be placed on the ballot this November. The proposed constitutional amendment would ban affirmative action for women and people of color in university admission, state hiring, and government contracting decisions. The Board in December had refused to approve the language, and was ordered to take action by January 20 by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The major proponent of the measure, misleadingly named the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), is Ward Connerly, who engineered a similar ballot measure in California in 1996 (Proposition 209). The California measure 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. A coalition called One United Michigan has been formed to fight the upcoming initiative.
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is investigating claims of wrongdoing by MCRI in gathering signatures in order for the ballot initiative to qualify for the 2006 election. Opponents of the measure argue that many of the voters who added their signatures were misled into believing the measure was intended to protect affirmative action in the state, not eliminate it, according to the Lansing State Journal.