ACLU Files Brief

February 24, 2006

DETROIT — Today the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend of the court brief in support of litigation asking the State Supreme Court to reverse a lower court opinion that ordered the State Board of Canvassers to place on the November ballot a measure that would ban affirmative action. The Board complied with that order on January 20. The brief was joined by the NAACP, Detroit Chapter, Detroit Urban League, National Bar Association, and ACCESS.

“Whenever significant allegations of fraud exist in a ballot campaign, the court must allow a state investigatory body the chance to determine whether those allegations have merit,” said ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss. “Here, the Court of Appeals preempted any state agency from conducting an investigation when it ordered the Board to certify the measure.” 

Since the supporters of the ballot initiative began their effort to obtain signatures to have the initiative placed on the November 2006 ballot, numerous individuals have testified, under oath, before the Michigan Department of Civil Rights Commission in Detroit and Flint, that false statements were made to them about the purpose of the anti-affirmative action petitions at issue. They allege that petition circulators approached unwitting minorities and told them that the petitions were in support of affirmative action, or that the petitions would help people of color go to college. If true, there has been widespread infringement of the most basic constitutional rights.

The sanctity of the voting process and the unfettered individual right to vote, uncompromised by external pressure or fraud, are among this nation’s most fundamental liberties. The organizations filing the brief argue that when a significant number of Michigan citizens claim that their signatures were fraudulently induced, and a public record of these allegations is established, the courts must direct appropriate officials to investigate the alleged wrongdoing, and vindicate the aggrieved voters if necessary. 

 “It is especially important, Moss added, that state agencies be allowed to conduct fraud allegations when the issue on a ballot may have grave consequences on the economy.” 

Influential Michigan-based corporations, like General Motors and Ford Motor Company, have said in an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in the litigation involving the University of Michigan several years ago that eliminating affirmative action would hurt their businesses: “General Motors depends upon the University of Michigan and similarly selective academic institutions to prepare students for employment to teach them the skills required to succeed and lead in the global marketplace. The quality of the education these students receive profoundly affects the ability of General Motors, and indeed all major American corporations, to compete.” 

 To read the brief, click here.

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