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.
Equal Opportunity Update
Federal Court Strikes Down Michigan’s Ban on Equal Opportunity; Ruling Appealed
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently struck down (2-1) Michigan's ban on equal opportunity programs in public higher education, employment, and contracting.
The court ruled that the ban changed the political process in Michigan to such a degree that it puts “special burdens on minority interests,” which violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
“The Constitution requires that our democratic processes must be open and accessible to all citizens, regardless of their race,” said John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “Today’s decision ensures fairness for advocates of diversity and inclusion in higher education.”
In 2006, Michigan passed a ballot initiative, Proposal 2, amending its state constitution to ban equal opportunity programs. Following its passage, a coalition of civil rights organizations that includes the ACLU of Michigan, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a federal lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.
“Through this lawsuit, we set out to level the playing field so that racial identity is not treated as irrelevant or meaningless in this state,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Today we are one step closer to realizing that goal”
The leading proponent of these anti-equal opportunity ballot initiatives is Ward Connerly, a California businessman and former University of California regent, who has shopped similar initiatives in states around the country for over a decade. Connerly-sponsored initiatives have passed in four other states – California (1996), Washington (1998), Nebraska (2008), and Arizona (2010). Colorado is the only state where, in 2008, voters rejected a Connerly anti-equal opportunity measure.
The state of Michigan appealed the ruling and the 6th Circuit court has voted to rehear the the panel decision en banc. A date for oral arguments has not been set.
More information on equal opportunity is available on our website.