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Affirmative Action Proposal Headed to Court

Affirmative Action Proposal Headed to Court


The fight over a proposed ballot initiative to end some affirmative action programs in Michigan is headed to court.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative said this week it filed a complaint with the Michigan Court of Appeals. The group wants the court to force the Board of State Canvassers to certify its petitions aimed at putting the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2006 ballot.

The proposal, which would ban racial and gender preferences in government hiring and university admissions, was stalled last month when the canvassers couldn’t agree on what to do with the group’s petitions.

“We diligently followed the procedure set forth in Michigan law to get an issue on the ballot, and the Board of Canvassers should not be a roadblock to getting this or any other issue in front of Michigan voters,” Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the MCRI, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman with the state attorney general’s office declined comment pending review of the complaint.

State elections bureau staff had recommended to the canvassers that the petitions be certified. But a vote to approve the petitions failed to win a bipartisan majority of the four-person board, which has two Democrats and two Republicans.

Canvassers also deadlocked on motions to throw out the petitions and to investigate allegations of fraud, making it likely a court would have to decide the issue.

Two canvassers, Democrat Doyle O’Connor and Republican Lyn Bankes, have called for investigations into how MCRI collected signatures.

Opponents of the proposal have said an undetermined number of signatures were gathered through misrepresentation, with many Black people tricked into signing a petition they thought would protect affirmative action and civil rights. MCRI denies the fraud allegations.

An opposition group called One United Michigan supports the call for an investigation.

“The public has a right to know what tactics were used,” spokesman David Waymire said.

Associated Press

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