(A) News and Commentary
July 3 - 9, 2003

Editor's Note:  The press often conveniently forgets that "affirmative action", as enshrined in the original Civil Rights Act of 1964, actually made racial preferences, and by extension, its bastard cousin, forced diversity, illegal. News
News Stories

          In several instances below the reporters make untrue statements such as "Proposition 209 in California ended Affirmative Action in that state."   This is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.  Proposition 209 ended the discriminatory use of race, gender and ethnicity in California, just like the original Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated.  The reporters also frequently use the term "affirmative action" when what they really mean is "racial preferences and quotas".

          I find these misrepresentations by the press to be so objectionable that I have inserted bracketed notations in the articles below.  -- Tim Fay, Editor

News Stories July 3 - 9, 2003

Thursday, July 3, 2003

Voters may decide affirmative action

Activist Connerly to launch Mich. initiative to put U-M policies on ballot in Nov. 2004.

By Joel Kurth / The Detroit News

ANN ARBOR -- The U.S. Supreme Court may not have the final word on affirmative action at the University of Michigan after all.

          Conservative activist Ward Connerly wants Michigan voters to decide the issue at the November 2004 election. The mixed-race businessman, who launched successful referendums that banned affirmative action [racial quotas and preferences] in California and Washington, tentatively plans to announce his intentions Tuesday.

          The signature drive follows the U.S. Supreme Court's decision June 23 upholding racial preferences in admissions and promises to shake up Michigan politics during the presidential election. Polls consistently show state residents oppose affirmative action [racial preferences], but observers consider the issue dangerous for both political parties.

          Connerly plans to make the announcement at the University of Michigan. At his side probably will be Barbara Grutter, 49, of Plymouth Township, a plaintiff in the case who blames affirmative action [racial quotas and preferences] for her failure to be admitted into the U-M Law School.

          "The decision was out of sync with the American people's commitment to fairness, equality and individualism," she said. "I am very glad for the people of Michigan to have that opportunity" to possibly vote to end affirmative action [racial quotas] in higher education.

          The ballot drive infuriates supporters of [forced] diversity, who have barely finished celebrating their victory in the case that began in 1997. Although the court upheld the use of what it called narrowly tailored affirmative action programs [racial preference programs], it did not say that universities had to have them -- or that residents couldn't vote to abolish the policies.

          "This whole campaign is in blatant disregard to the Supreme Court ruling and the role race plays in society and higher education," said George Gardner III, 18, a U-M sophomore from Detroit. "Ward Connerly is leading a campaign to deceive the citizens of our country."

         Connerly didn't return calls from The Detroit News seeking comment Wednesday. The announcement follows a deluge of dozens of calls from Michigan residents asking Connerly to launch a ballot initiative, said Diane Schachterle, spokeswoman for his Sacramento, Calif.-based American Civil Rights Coalition.

          Particularly influential was the Michigan Review, a U-M student publication affiliated with the National Review, a magazine considered the standard-bearer for the political right. Staffers are helping with Connerly's announcement and the ballot drive, said Justin Wilson, senior editor.

          "After the Supreme Court decision, a lot of conservatives gave up and said, 'Well, we gave it a good shot,'" Wilson said. "More traditional conservatives think this is a legislative issue, so let's have a ballot initiative."

Plans in the making

          The petition drive may have been planned long before any spontaneous outpouring of opposition to the court's ruling.

          Curt Levey, a spokesman for the Center for Individual Rights, which sued U-M, said conservative groups put plans for ballot initiatives on hold pending the Supreme Court's decision.

          Connerly led initiatives that voters approved in 1999 in Washington and 1996 in California, both of which are considered more politically liberal than Michigan.

          He also is considering similar referendums on affirmative action [racial preferences] in Arizona, Utah and Colorado, Schachterle said.

          Connerly would have to collect 317,757 signatures to force an election in Michigan, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the 2002 governor's race.

          Lansing pollster Steve Mitchell said Connerly's forces would have to spend at least $400,000 to gather the signatures.

          Opinion polls in Michigan, as in the rest of the nation, show that affirmative action [racial preferences and quotas] could be doomed if voters decide the policy.

          In a survey for The News, Mitchell found in 1998 that 53 percent of voters opposed racial preferences, while just 40 percent supported them. The results echoed a 1996 survey that showed the split as 58-35, with 64 percent of whites opposing affirmative action [racial preferences and quotas].

          Opposition only deepened as the U-M case wound its way through the courts, Mitchell said. A Gallup poll released last week reported that 69 percent of respondents nationwide thought college admission should be based solely on merit. Just 27 percent thought race should be a factor.

          "All the polls show affirmative action [racial quotas and preferences] is as unpopular as a skunk at a wedding," agreed Bill Ballenger, publisher of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter.

          Mitchell predicted voters will eliminate affirmative action [racial quotas] unless Michigan corporations mount a vigorous political campaign in favor of it. Dozens filed briefs supporting U-M's policies, but their level of commitment is uncertain, Mitchell said.

          He predicted supporters of affirmative action [racial quotas] would have to raise at least $4 million.

          That could be a conservative estimate: Foes and boosters of Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action [racial quotas and preferences] in California, spent about $10 million seven years ago.

          Ford Motor Co. has consistently favored [forced] diversity, but spokeswoman Ann Gattari said it's premature to speculate on the company's involvement in any elections.

          A ballot measure also would impact Michigan politics, Ballenger said, and provide a wedge issue throughout the presidential election that neither party necessarily wants. Republicans fear the measure will attract a big turnout of liberal, urban voters, while Democrats fear the divisive issue could split the party.

          "This is a real hot potato that will cause huge problems for a lot of people in a lot of jurisdictions if it gets onto the ballot," Ballenger said.

U-M responds

          Julie Peterson, spokeswoman for U-M, issued a written statement that didn't directly address Connerly's effort.

          "The Supreme Court rendered a wise, fair and balanced decision on how universities may appropriately use affirmative action [racial preferences and quotas] in assembling a student body that is both academically excellent and racially diverse [forcibly diverse]," the statement read in part. "We believe the people of Michigan share these objectives."

          Others on campus weren't so hesitant. Jesse Levine, 19, a U-M sophomore and member of the College Republicans, said he deemed the ballot measure unnecessary.

          "The Supreme Court has ruled," he said. "Our nation has a system of checks and balances, and the final authority has ruled. You should respect that decision."

          Brandy Johnson, a 25-year-old from Detroit who graduated this summer from U-M's Law School, called Connerly's effort a frustrating distraction.

         "Are they going to go state-by-state and take up ballot issues now?" she asked. "That's an amazing amount of time, energy and resources that could be better spent addressing inequities."

          But Levey, of the group that fought U-M's policy, said voters can rectify the "huge gap between public opinion and elite opinion" on affirmative action [forced diversity and racial quotas].

          "No matter what the court did, this was going to be a hot issue," Levey said. "It's going to be with us for a long, long time."

Last Known Link:

GOP shuns affirmative action [racial quota] vote

          "Affirmative action [racial quotas] may not be popular with its members, but the Michigan Republican Party wants nothing to do with a ballot proposal to let voters decide the policy.

          "California activist Ward Connerly is coming to the University of Michigan today to launch a $1 million campaign to collect at least 317,517 signatures and force a November 2004 referendum on whether race can be a factor in school admissions.

          "Public opinion polls consistently show a majority of Michigan and U.S. residents oppose the race-conscious policies, but the state Republican party is denouncing Connerly's effort as divisive and unnecessary. "We don't think it's valuable to keep stirring the pot on this issue," said Greg McNeilly, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party. "Public policy should be focused on healing the racial divide, and that's not something accomplished by Mr. Connerly's initiative.""

Last Known Link:

New battle on affirmative action [racial quotas]

          "Seeking to attack the Supreme Court decision that upheld affirmative action [racial quotas and forced diversity] in higher education, the University of California regent who sponsored ballot initiatives dismantling racial preference programs in California and Washington plans on Tuesday to launch a similar measure in Michigan. "The president isn't going to [dismantle affirmative action] and Congress isn't going to do it. We have no choice but to use the ballot box," said Ward Connerly, who is expected to announce the Michigan initiative in a news conference at the University of Michigan. "We hope we can get a critical mass of states saying, `This isn't right,'" he added. "Then, hopefully, the president, Supreme Court and Congress will take the issue up again." ... Connerly's measure, tentatively called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, is being prepared for the November 2004 ballot.

         "Like California's Proposition 209, Connerly said, the Michigan measure would amend the state constitution yet not mention the phrase "affirmative action" [because the Michigan measure does not seek to end affirmative action.  Editor].  Patterned after the wording of 209, the measure would spell out that the state could not "discriminate against or provide preferential treatment to individuals or groups on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin" in the awarding of jobs, school admissions and contracting work. But the proposal could have a key difference. Connerly said he is considering adding a clause that also would prohibit schools from using so-called legacy preferences in their admissions policies, that is, awarding points to the children of alumni."

Last Known Link:

Commentary: Don't block the healing

          "Three weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger that colleges and universities could use race as one factor among many in determining admissions. The Court also ruled that achieving diversity [forced diversity via racial quotas] in the leadership positions of our society is a compelling state interest worthy of the Constitution's protection. The Grutter decision was the culmination of a six years battle involving the University of Michigan, its law school, and a wide variety of businesses and organizations in our state. Now, when we should let the healing begin, comes Ward Connerly, the California leader of a national movement against race-sensitive diversity programs, who has decided to reignite the battle in our state by pushing for a ballot measure to trump the Supreme Court's ruling. Connerly, not satisfied with the Supreme Court's decision, is an outsider with a divisive and reckless agenda.

         "It was Connerly who led the fight in favor of Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action [FALSE:  Prop. 209 only ended racially discriminatory preferences.  209 did not end affirmative action as defined in the original Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Editor] in California's colleges and universities. As a result of Proposition 209, California's top universities today have fewer blacks and Hispanics than were enrolled before it became law. [This is also false; academically qualified minorities are still well-represented throughout the California college system.   Editor] 

          "Connerly uses the language of civil rights as a weapon to destroy the progress our state and this country have made over the last 50 years. Following Proposition 209, California adopted a so-called "percentage plan" to achieve [fordced] diversity. This deeply flawed approach uses as reference points the enduring patterns of residential and educational discrimination that already exist. Take it from a moderate Republican: the "percentage plans" are a diversion from what ought to be a ringing commitment to racial justice and equality by everyone in this country..."

Last Known Link:

Recommended Additional Reading:

Definitions:  Affirmative Action

Definitions:  Diversity

<== Choose another topic in the left index

Other Choices:

Reload Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
Main Index

Main News Index

Adversity.Net HOME page