Last-Ditch Effort Fails to Deny Ballot Access to the Public Referendum That Calls for Ending Race-Sensitive Admissions at the University of Michigan

This November voters in Michigan will be presented with a referendum, which if approved by a majority of the electorate, would ban the use of race in admissions decisions at the University of Michigan and other state-operated universities. Despite recent polls that show the so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will go down to defeat, opponents of the measure continued their efforts to remove the referendum from the ballot.

A suit was filed in federal court claiming that voters were tricked into signing petitions that were circulating in order to gain the initiative a place on the ballot. Witnesses testified that they were told the initiative would help to preserve affirmative action or to “help black kids get into college.” A similar suit was thrown out of state court. The judge in that case ruled that, despite the anecdotal evidence from some witnesses that fraud had taken place, the plaintiffs failed to produce evidence that the fraud was so widespread that it would invalidate enough signatures to keep the referendum off the ballot.

This week a federal judge in Michigan ruled that despite the evidence that fraud had taken place, he did not have jurisdiction to remove the measure from the ballot.