My August 4th article entitled, “Deaffirming Action Tricky” reports on recent national polling on affirmative action.
Ward Connerly, the former University of California regent who is bankrolling the Arizona initiative and similar measures in Nebraska and Colorado to ban affirmative action is a black man who opposes affirmative action calling it counter productive.
The initiatives would amend the state constitutions to ban any hiring practices, university scholarships and other public programs that favor one group over others. Arizona and Nebraska officials are still verifying petition signatures while Colorado has the initiative slated for the November ballot.
Connerly’s group, the American Civil Rights Initiative, already has been successful with similar initiatives in California, Washington and Michigan. And he plans to continue four years from now in other states. Ultimately, Connerly said, “the goal is to try to get either the Supreme Court or the Congress to get the policy changed at the national level.”
Connerly said his ballot initiatives would attack programs like the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program in Tucson. It allows minority and women-owned businesses to bid more for city contracts than other groups and requires prime contractors to make a serious effort to hire them for work.
“Those clearly would be outlawed,” Connerly said of the Tucson program. “Any standards that are applied to groups based on race. Any jobs where there are different standards for admissions.”
Connerly’s opponents in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska criticize him for billing the initiative drive as a civil rights cause. They say thousands of voters were likely duped into signing petitions because the initiatives were described as a ban on discrimination instead of an attack on programs that help women and minorities.
Pro-affirmative action activists from Detroit have filed for an injunction in Arizona to keep the initiative off the November ballot.
Presumed Republican Presidential nominee John McCain focused national attention on Connerly’s efforts in late July, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that he endorsed the Arizona initiative — although he added that he had not read the details of the proposal.