Affirmative Action Off 2006 Michigan Ballot?

One United Michigan is reporting in an email that the Michigan Board of Canvassers voted not to add a controversial ballot initiative to the 2006 ballot that would eliminate affirmative action by the government, including at public universities. The board cited concerns about the validity of the signatures collected. Like in many BAM-N controversies, it’s difficult to untangle the politics from the tactics. Here’s one part of the email alert just sent:

In comments to reporters, David Waymire said that while One United Michigan did not support the BAMN tactics, we agreed with its members that there was substantial fraud used to collect the petitions, and that it is unfortunate Michigan law appears to allow fraud in the collection of signatures for a constitutional amendment.

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. Rob, would you agree your headline here is misleading?

    And if OUM really agreed there was “real” substantial “fraud,” rather than the fig-leaf strawman BAMN concocted, why have they not joined the litigation, or used their vast lobbying network to initiate litigation.

    It’s because there was no fraud — unless you define fraud as “disagreement” with the opinion that “affirmative action” is definitionally the same as “preferential treatment.” The last I looked, the US First Amendment allowed disagreements of opinion and didn’t allow public bodies, like a Board of Canvassers, to deny people the right to vote because their definition of vague phrases was “truth” and the petitioners views were so untrue as to constitute criminal fraud (and you’re ACLU argued exactly this in a DC gambling petition case in 2004, defending circulators who were accused of “T-shirt” “fraud” and other oral representations, and called “under oath” to testify (under penalty of perjury) that they didn’t “misrepresent” the issue.

    If you’re really a supporter of the First Amendment, or if the ACLU was really consistent, you’d both agree that this isn’t fraud. And if it ever becomes such, the nation is doomed.

  2. Chet, I certainly don’t think the fate of the nation hangs in the balance on this one. I think my post is accurate: MCRI will not be on the ballot, due to concerns about the signatures. I specifically did not weigh in about the merits of the complaints because I have not examined them closely.

    As to whether all of this constitutes a high First Amendment issue, I am not aware of a constitutional right to vote on everything proposed. In fact, I think there rightfully should be a high bar before an initiative appears on a ballot. I am not sure whether that bar was met in this case, and I am sure that you and the supporters of the initiative can and will try again.

    As for your comment about “my” ACLU while I am a member and supporter they are a large and complex organization. I do not work for them and by no means agree with every view they hold.

  3. It would be pointless to further debate this. You’re relying on a David Waymire email as a source of news (or quasi-news), and there is no sense in pointing the errors resuliing from your lack of review (or Waymire’s lack of providing context, which is why he is a PR guy) of the court documents (which are online at the Court of Appeals website). The only binding court order is a 3-0 decision ordering us on the ballot – despite the refusal of individual public officers to follow the order – that is, despite the law-breaking activity of individual Canvassers, this is on the ballot. Only if you believe individual Canvassers somehow have more Constitutional interpretative power than an appellate court panel (with two of three being Dems), then your on to something.

  4. Sorry, I was on the road when making the above entries, and had to abbreviate.

    My point can be made even simpler. On what authority do you purport to break news or even assist your audience in op-ed conclusion-making, if, as you write:

    I specifically did not weigh in about the merits of the complaints because I have not examined them closely.

    THEN WHY comment on them without examining them closely. Even as an op-e writer with greater latitude, isn’t that irresponsible and unethical journalist.
    In fact, I think there rightfully should be a high bar before an initiative appears on a ballot. I am not sure whether that bar was met in this case, and I am sure that you and the supporters of the initiative can and will try again.


    SO, you are willing to accept frivolous lawsuits meant so to delay and drain resources from groups you disagree with that you “know will try again” and know have the resources? You accept abuse of legal process for that purpose? BAMN, and OUM in not condemning BAMN’s legally frivolous, and factually fabricated (and if you’d researched the 1000 page plus of documents, you’d agree, although I don’t think you’d need do any more than read the Secretary of State Staff report, which condenses it to 9 pages, written by a neutral party, to conclude that the charges are bun).

    But because the outcome suits your needs, you’re here reiterating OUM’s gleeful delight in our delay and needless legal costs. And yes, the money is there to finish the process, but it is a fundamental abuse of the system to allow this type of tactic, and it decreases the public’s confidence in the justice system.

    The good news is that 3 opposition members have already been ruled to have filed such defective motions as to warrant punitive sanctions, and now two Canvassers have willfully disobeyed a court order (it will be interesting to see the consequence).

  5. Unfortunately for you, it is not “news”, and not accurate, if it can even be characterized as a “fact” rather than your opinion (or, more aptly, desire).

    The Board of Canvassers did not vote to take MCRI off the ballot, or to prevent it from being on the ballot, or that it didn’t qualify for the ballot. The Board vote 2-1-1 (all votes require at least one Dem and one Repub to pass) and therefore it could not reach a conclusion, yet again (for a third time). Not reaching a conclusion about a future outcome is a far cry from asserting the conclusion that the future outcome won’t occur.

    You are proving your out-of-Michigan status, your lack of research here, and your issue bias and emotions (which, in itself, is not a sufficient criticism, since I favor transparent bias if the arguments or assertions are carefully constructed) and being very careless. Since you purport that your statement was “newsworthy,” there should be some care if you want to preserve your credibility. I’m more disappointed given your positive past than I am critical – I could care less whether you carelessly destroy your credibility, but I call it like I see it and that what I see here.

  6. 1. If the MCRI is not on the Michigan ballot, which is true (correct me if I am wrong), then the headline is not untrue.

    2. The statement about fraud was relayed information from OUM. So Rob here is just reporting the statement, not making that call himself.

    ari p.

  7. Ari,

    I knew someone would argue the “present” versus future conditional issue.

    Note, my initial post did not say the statement/headline was “untrue.” I said it was misleading – and I asked Rob to agree (and hopefully rectify that). Rob “entrenched” himself, rather than admitting the confusing aspect of his headline or offering your clarification, and made the following clarification, which is what most people would have gleaned from just the headline:

    Chet: MCRI will not be on the ballot. That is news, and something I think people are interested in hearing.

    This is clearly expressing that he believes not just the present (I could run a story saying that a thousand issues ARE not (currently) on the ballot — that is not “news”) but that the future conditional will also hold true. That’s not “news,” its editorial prediction (and not inappropriate for a blog, but is subject to debate, which I attempted to initiate here). And I’m willing to bet any amount of money on the question of whether this will be n the ballot (not whether it will win, but be on the ballot).

    Dumi, I’m not grasping at anything. As a reader of Goodspeedupdate I was asking that he consider input from his readership and that his headlining conveyed a misleading impression of facts. But let’s say I’m grasping — its less of a grasp than the extremely reaching BAMN claim that MCRI committed “fraud” in its signature gathering to the tune of 140,000 signatures, and that the nature of this “fraud” was that “no black person in Detroit would have signed” if they had known the “true intent” (obviously opinion) of the petition, and that the term “preferential treatment” was deceptive to the level of rising to criminal fraud. BAMN is entitled – under the First Amendment – to argue to the voters that our language is misleading. They are not entitled to disenfranchise or otherwise take away the rights of signers or the people to vote because they believe their view of what is “misleading” is absolute truth and warrants the government’s determination that our view is criminally fraudulent. That is the First Amendment danger I spoke of in a different section, and why the stakes are so high if BAMN’s theory of law(lessness) were to prevail.

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