Since the Supreme Court upheld diversity as a compelling interest in higher education, American Civil Rights Coalition Chairman Ward Connerly has been suggesting that he will try to fight the decision with a voter initiative in Michigan.
Connerly – the University of California-Berkeley regent who led successful voter initiatives that ended affirmative action in California and the state of Washington – will be speaking at a press conference hosted by the The Michigan Review at noon tomorrow on the steps of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.
According to a written statement, Connerly “will announce the next step for all those who oppose the government-sponsored practice of treating people of different ‘races’ differently” at the press conference.
The Associated Press reported that Connerly said a previous effort at starting a Michigan ballot initiative four years ago was suspended because it was believed the issue would be resolved by the Supreme Court.
After the Court’s decision allowing the use of race-conscious admissions, interest in a ballot initiative resurfaced.
“This pushed us over the edge,” Connerly said about the rulings.
Connerly said that in Michigan, organizers have to get signatures from at least eight percent of registered voters in the last election for governor.
“Once we generate sufficient organization from people in Michigan for this, we’ll pass the baton to them,” he said.
The Michigan Review staffers would not comment on what Connerly would be speaking about, but National Affairs Editor Karl Sowislo said the next step in combating affirmative action could include a number of different legal challenges to the University’s admissions policies.
“The Supreme Court decision left open many possibilities for future legal challenges,” he said. “It is by no means an open-shut case. They are very vague about what is their perception of narrow and tailored,” he added.
Sowislo said possible legislation attempts that could be brought to Michigan include a ballot initiative to outlaw affirmative action or a Racial Privacy Initiative, which would eliminate racial databases in local and state government. The RPI is currently scheduled to be on California’s primary ballot in March 2004.
The ACRC said it has done a study of possible actions opposers of affirmative action can take in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the University’s lawsuits, which includes a statewide initiative campaign in Michigan.
“The Court may have allowed racial preferences with their decision, but they did not mandate them,” Connerly said in the statement. “The people still rule in this country, not robed justices. If the people want color-blindness and equality under the law, all they have to do is stand up and say so. I’m sure that they will and we’re going to make sure everybody hears them loud and clear.”
Despite the ACRC’s claim it is responding concern from Michigan’s citizens, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said in a written statement that the University’s admissions policies are in alignment with the objectives of the state’s citizens.
“A wide array of groups and individuals, including many of the top corporations in Michigan, agree with us and have supported our efforts,” Peterson said in the statement. “The Supreme Court rendered a wise, fair and balanced decision on how universities may appropriately use affirmative action in assembling a student body that is both academically excellent and racially diverse,” she added.