The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Connerly Announces Campaign to Ban Affirmative Action in Michigan
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 7/8/2003Conservative activist Ward Connerly has announced plans for a campaign to ban affirmative action in Michigan via a statewide referendum. In a press conference held at the University of Michigan, hosted by the undergraduate right-wing newspaper, the Michigan Review, Connerly reacted to the recent Supreme Court decision permitting limited use of race-based affirmative action at state universities.
"The Court may have allowed racial preferences with their decision, but they did not mandate them," Connerly said. "The people still rule in this country, not robed justices...and we're going to make sure everybody hears them loud and clear." Alongside Connerly was Barbara Grutter, the 49 year-old petitioner named in the recent Supreme Court case involving the University of Michigan Law School.
Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a leader in the fight to preserve affirmative action, countered that ACRC's plan is wrong for Michigan and for America. "The Supreme Court rejected arguments that would have turned the clock back on 50 years of civil rights progress."
Henderson continued, "Schools take all kinds of factors into consideration when making admission decisions ? factors that have nothing to do with SAT scores or grades. By not taking race into consideration, it will be primarily children from privileged backgrounds rather than children from disadvantaged backgrounds who will populate our campuses."
In response to Connerly's announcement, a number of well-known and respected Michigan civic leaders, including the Honorable Dennis Archer, former Mayor of Detroit and Michelle Lin, founding member of University of Michigan Students Supporting Affirmative Action, have announced that they will be available to the media to discuss the implications for the state if Connerly's divisive campaign moves ahead.
"No matter what the court did, this was going to be a hot issue. It's going to be with us for a long, long time," noted Curt Levey of the Center for Individual Rights, another right-wing opponent of affirmative action.
In order to force a referendum on affirmative action, Connerly would need to collect 317,757 signatures, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the 2002 governor's race. "The Washington Post" reports that the ACRC is also setting its sights on ballot initiatives in Colorado, Missouri; the Florida cities of Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale; and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
The initiative strategy has worked before; in 1996, amidst widespread national media attention, Connerly successfully promoted Proposition 209, a California initiative banning race-based preferential treatment in state and local governments. In 1998, Washington state passed a similar measure.