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.
Michigan Judge Deals Blow to Ward Connerly
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 3/26/2004A Michigan judge has ruled that Ward Connerly's proposed anti-affirmative action ballot initiative is "blatantly in direct conflict" with the Michigan Constitution and does not fully inform voters of its effect on the state's constitution. The judge also ordered the Michigan State Board of Canvassers to rescind its approval of the petition.
Judge Paula Manderfield ruled that the "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative" (MCRI) petition fails to reflect the language of the state constitution as it stands and as it would be amended, which Michigan statute requires. Although an appeal is expected from Connerly's camp, Manderfield's decision could effectively throw out 4,200 petitions currently in circulation and signatures collected thus far.
The judge also stated that the Michigan State Board of Canvassers' approval given for the MCRI petition "flies in the face of the underlying purpose of the popular amendment process" which is to assure all voters are fully informed of the effect a proposal would have on the state's constitution.
In her opinion, Manderfield acknowledged that the Michigan Supreme Court has never addressed a situation similar to the MCRI effort where the proposed amendment "creates a 'new' section to the Michigan Constitution, yet boldly regurgitates language of an existing section, with moderate modifications."
The complaints against Connerly's petition were filed by two sets of groups filing separate lawsuits, though the judge heard arguments on behalf of both groups on March 22.
One suit had been filed by Citizens for a United Michigan, a diverse coalition including the Detroit Renaissance, Michigan Catholic Conference, and Michigan chapters of the American Association of University Women, NAACP, and ACLU. The other lawsuit came from the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary, the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, United for Equality and Affirmative Action, and two Detroit-area AFSCME unions.
Groups opposed to Connerly's MCRI said that the ballot's title was misleading and that it was falsely promoted to Michigan voters. According to MCRI opponents, instead of enhancing civil rights, the petition language would have amended existing civil rights clauses within the Michigan constitution so as to end affirmative action and equal opportunity.
Further, affirmative action advocates in Michigan say that, if passed, this initiative would have undermined the Supreme Court's ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger and the autonomy of any public college or university in the state, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University.