A last-ditch effort to prevent voters from considering a proposal that would ban some affirmative action programs in Michigan has failed.
The Michigan Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of the case, meaning the issue will be allowed on the November ballot.
“We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court,” the justices said in the order, issued Wednesday.
The decision is a victory for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which has been leading the drive to let voters decide if government and university admissions programs should be banned from giving preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin.
An opposition group called By Any Means Necessary had urged the Supreme Court to take up the issue. The pro-affirmative action group disagrees with allowing the phrase “preferential treatment” to appear on the ballot. It also claims some signatures used to get the issue on the ballot were gained through misrepresentation, a charge MCRI denies.
Jennifer Gratz, MCRI’s executive director, said she hopes the court’s decision will allow a discussion now on the merits of the ballot proposal.
“We expected that this would happen because we knew our opposition’s arguments did not hold water,” she said. “We’re happy the people of Michigan will have the chance to vote on this in November.”
BAMN attorney Shanta Driver on Thursday criticized the court’s decision not to hear the group’s appeal.
“This decision just says that the Supreme Court will not protect the voting rights of the people of Michigan,” she added. “The Supreme Court decision shows complete disdain and contempt for the voting rights of Michigan’s black, Latino and progressive white people.”
Rally set for Friday
BAMN plans to hold a rally Friday at the state Capitol to present petitions asking Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm to step in.
Although the state Civil Rights Commission is part of her administration, Granholm has little power over court decisions.
“Up to this point, no one has identified any clear legal authority that would allow the governor to intervene in this matter,” Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.
The governor opposes the initiative and has asked the commission to investigate, Boyd said.