This past week saw many surprising and
troubling developments in the battle over race-conscious
admissions. On June 12, the state Court of Appeals reinstated the
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative petition, breathing new life into
the abandoned ballot initiative. A few days earlier, on June 9,
representatives in the state House amended an education
appropriations bill to include a clause denying state funding to
any public institution that uses racial, religious, creed or
national origin as a admission factor.

Mira Levitan

Of course, the amended spending bill is not automatically put
into effect — it must not only pass the state Senate, but
also get signed by Governor Jennifer Granholm. Thus, the amendment
should not be seen as a threat to affirmative action policies: Even
if it were to pass the Senate, it is assured that Gov. Granholm
would veto it.

The reinstatement of the MCRI petition, however, is deeply
troubling. Before the ruling, MCRI officials had declared the 2004
movement dead; the focus was shifted onto the 2006 election. Now,
armed with this decision, MCRI leaders could very well bring back
the ballot proposal for this year. If successfully placed onto the
2004 ballot, the MCRI amendment will pose the largest single threat
to affirmative action policies since the Supreme Court decision one
year ago.

While MCRI leaders have not announced their intent, those in
favor of race-conscious admissions should not wait for a cue to
act. Advocates of affirmative action should begin immediate
political mobilization — the two year reprieve that many had
been cherishing is gone, the battle has begun anew.

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