Group Files Lawsuit to Block Race Ballot Drive
Detroit Free Press, Jan. 27
DETROIT (AP) — Attorneys have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block a state petition drive that would allow voters to decide on the future of affirmative action in universities and other public agencies.
Godfrey Dillard and Milton Henry, who defended the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies before the U.S. Supreme Court, sued Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court to halt the petition drive, called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
They argued that the measure attempts to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling, as state laws initiated in the 1960s did after integration was ordered following the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling, The Detroit News reported in a Tuesday story.
“This referendum is a direct attack on racial preferences, and racial preferences are not unconstitutional and do not per se violate the rights of whites,” Dillard said of the ballot proposal.
A preliminary hearing has been set for March 19 before Judge Sue Borman.
Tim O’Brien, the campaign manager of the ballot initiative, said Monday that he had not seen the suit and declined to comment.
State Rep. Leon Drolet, R-Clinton Township, called the lawsuit “amazing.”
“This initiative, every word of it, is built around equal protection under the law. Their Orwellian doublespeak is laughable,” said Drolet, a key advocate of the petition drive.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative began collecting signatures Jan. 12. The question will go before Michigan voters Nov. 2 if the signatures of at least 317,757 registered voters are collected by July 6.
The group, with the help of California businessman and affirmative action foe Ward Connerly, targeted Michigan for the ballot measure.
The effort followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 5-4 decision that the University of Michigan Law School could consider race to create a diverse population. The court struck down the university’s undergraduate policy as too formulaic, and university officials revised the policy last fall to include a more comprehensive review of each application.
The University of Michigan is not a party to the legal challenge.