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Update: Michigan Civil Rights Initiative

In the past, I've blogged news issues that turned into ongoing stories (or were such all along) and never went back to them. It's not that I've ever gotten anyone asking "Hey whatever happened about that thing you wrote about?" but, well, in case you were wondering…

Here's a follow-up on my LJ post of January 8, 2006 on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot proposal which would (roughly speaking) outlaw racial preference requirements for hiring and school admissions in Michigan. Much political wrangling is underway on this proposal, as one might expect. Early on, supporters went to court to force the proposal onto the November ballot after questions were raised about the validity of the petitions. A Michigan appeals court ruled that the proposal was valid.

Opponents are trying two tactics. The first is a further appeal to the Michigan supreme court, supported by a 1000 page report by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (a state government office) that alleges serious fraud by supporters in their efforts to get petition signatures. This is reported in the June 13, 2006 edition of the Detroit News ("Group asks top state court to reject affirmative action vote").

The second is a lawsuit in U.S. federal court to block the proposal from the ballot because of the alleged fraud. This lawsuit was brought by two of the organizations against the MCRI and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (acting as a private citizen in this case), and the target is a California businessman, Ward Connerly, who with his supporters allegedly engaged in the voter fraud during the petition process. This was reported in the June 23, 2006 Detroit News ("Mayor's lawsuit targets Connerly").

A poll published in the June 13 Detroit News says the voters are pretty evenly split, with 43 percent supporting the MCRI and 42 percent opposing ("Affirmative action ban a dead heat"). The Metro Times issue of June 21, 2006 had a good summary of the recent developments ("Uncivil Fight").

Notice, I was "good" and kept the foregoing more objective. Now here's my opinion section:

1. I'm still against the MCRI. If we lived in a world where there was fairness toward all people, maybe, but then we wouldn't have needed affirmative action in the first place. I don't think the people who are "victimized" by the application of affirmative action regulations are entirely without resources and need the rules changed back.

2. It always bothers me deeply when people from other states like Ward Connerly come to Michigan to try to influence politics and elections here. But since it doesn't seem to bother them, I think I will organize a campaign in California to try to get them to stop wasting water on lawn watering in a land where grass never used to grow. That potentially has more impact on me than affirmative action programs in Michigan has on Ward Connerly.

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