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.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .