Affirmative Action Victories in Michigan, California
An anti-affirmative action campaign in Michigan has experienced so many setbacks that it will now push back its plans by two years. The so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, led by affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly, had attempted to gather enough signatures to place an anti-affirmative action initiative on the November 2004 ballot. However, “because of internal disorganization, internal discord, legal decisions, and Ward Connerly’s health problems … the intent now is to qualify for the  ballot,” said state Rep. Leon Drolet, R-Clinton Township, according to the Associated Press. The ballot initiative would have banned affirmative action policies aimed at increasing opportunities for women and people of color.
Connerly led the ultimately successful Proposition 209 campaign in California, which was opposed by a broad coalition of women’s rights and civil rights groups, including the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, the YWCA, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. As the Michigan initiative was attempting to do, Proposition 209 effectively ended affirmative action in government hiring, public contracting, and college admissions.
However, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the use of affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan, the California state Assembly recently passed a bill that would allow universities to consider race, gender, and income in the admissions process, according to the Associated Press. Though opponents contend that the bill would violate Proposition 209, Assembly member Marco Firebaugh (D-South Gate), the sponsor of the bill, said, “[T]his measure gives flexibility to [the University of California and California State University] to consider [factors such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin] in considering a student. They may not be the determining factor,” AP reports.