[Ed. Note. Petition signers could read the proposed amendment, printed in full, on the page they signed. On the ballot, voters will see only a brief summary of the amendment: the "ballot language." Under Michigan Election Law, the State Director of Elections is required to prepare the ballot language, which "shall inform the voters of the subject matter of the proposal, but need not be legally precise." It "shall be clear, using words that have common everyday meaning to the general public, and shall not create prejudice for or against the proposal." The language is then submitted to the Board of State Canvassers for review and approval.
The approved caption of this language misleads, by greatly reducing the amendment's scope. The amendment would ban any program that gives preferential treatment in the circumstances listed, not just "affirmative action programs." If the amendment actually said what is here implied, state programs that prefer on the basis of race et al could avoid the ban simply by not being called "affirmative action." The caption commits the classic logical fallacy of mistaking a part for the whole. It was reasonable to address public uncertainty about the amendment's impact on affirmative action. This could have been done easily. In the caption, following BAN, simply insert ANY PROGRAM, INCLUDING ANY AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAM, WHICH GIVES. After the insert, let the rest of the caption, starting with PREFERENTIAL, stand.
The last part of the summary seems to take sides. It is certainly true that a "separate provision of the state constitution already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin." However, to say this may suggest that the discrimination ban in the amendment is redundant. It would also be true to say that the state government has been quite lax in enforcing the rights of whites/European Americans not to be discriminated against, based on race/national origin, in favor of blacks/Latinos. (As witness the admissions policies of Michigan's University, exposed in the Gratz and Grutter Supreme Court cases.) Given such laxity, a public declaration of a person's state constitutional right in Michigan not to be subjected to such discrimination is not redundant, but urgent. Curtis Crawford]
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO BAN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAMS THAT GIVE PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO GROUPS OR INDIVIDUALS BASED ON THEIR RACE, GENDER, COLOR, ETHNICITY OR NATIONAL ORIGIN FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION OR CONTRACTING PURPOSES
The proposed amendment would:
Should this proposal be adopted?
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preparing the language, the Director of Elections received the following suggestions:
The proposal would amend the state constitution to prohibit preferential treatment or discrimination by state government, state universities, colleges, community colleges, school districts, counties and local governments to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.
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2. Ballot Language Submitted by One United Michigan (Opponent):
The proposal would amend the state constitution to immediately prohibit governments in Michigan, including state universities, colleges, community colleges, school districts, counties and local governments, from using any affirmative action and outreach programs in the operation of public employment, public education, public contracting, health care services or community policing, defined as those programs intended to foster diversity by offering consideration to an individual based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin as one of many factors among otherwise qualified individuals. The proposal would amend the Civil Rights article of the Michigan State Constitution.
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3. Ballot Language Submitted by Coalition To Defend Affirmative Action &
Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary [BAMN] (Opponent):
The proposal would amend the Michigan Constitution to: Immediately ban all affirmative action, equal opportunity or integration programs that consider race, sex, color or national origin in: