From The Grio — Last week, affirmative action advocates won a victory when the U.S Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit declared the Michigan’s 2006 ban on affirmative action, the referendum titled Proposal 2 or the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, unconstitutional. The 2-1 ruling by the court reverses an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge David Lawson, who upheld the constitutionality of Proposal 2.
In its reversal, the Court of Appeals stated that Proposal 2 “unconstitutionally alters Michigan’s political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities,” or in essence, the fact that white Michiganders voted to impose a law that affected minorities primarily, was unfair.
While this ruling will probably be ruled up by the full 6th Circuit, and if need be, by the United States Supreme Court, where the conservative majority is expected to uphold the precedent banning affirmative action, the reasoning for the overturning is what is probably the most interesting aspect of ruling. Are African-Americans, Latinos and other racial minorities unduly hurt by the referendum process, when the public policy is focused on them?
The referendum process allows for citizens to petition to place legislation on the ballot to overturn laws already passed by the legislature. Some of the most famous referendums which targeted minorities originated in California, with the 1994 ballot initiative Proposition 187, which sought to prevent illegal immigrants from using state social services like health care and public schools; and the 1996 anti-affirmative action Proposition 209, lead by anti-affirmative action advocate, and former University of California regent, Ward Connerly.