Paul Jacob
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While the university's undergraduate admissions policy of rewarding minority applicants with additional points for having a preferred race was found unconstitutional by the high court, the university's law school policy of using race more subjectively was allowed. The decisions suggest that numerical standards are out, but wink-and-nod racial preferences are just okie-dokie. At least, for another 25 years, according to the constitutional impressionism of Judge O'Connor.

Preferring a less blurry vision of law, certain Michigan citizens — more than 500,000 in all — petitioned to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The measure, if passed by Michigan voters, would end racial preferences in government employment, school admissions, and state contracting. These Michigan citizens have a right to fair treatment of their petition, like their idea or not (for the record: I do). Remember: that right is guaranteed in the First Amendment.

But fairness is not what they received.

The Michigan Board of Canvassers repeatedly denied the proponents of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) and the people of Michigan their rights to vote on a lawfully qualified ballot measure.

The ballot initiative clearly had enough signatures. The only reason the measure has not been certified is that the majority of the BOC let their personal political opinions trump the law.

The Board is comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans. Certifying an initiative requires three votes. So this summer the Board threw duty to the wind and embraced their personal political agenda by refusing to certify the initiative for the ballot. Then, recently, the BOC began mysteriously canceling meetings so that the measure continued to be denied ballot placement.

This is not the first time the Michigan BOC (dream up your own acronym) has denied the civil rights of Michigan voters in order to play their personal political games. As I informed my Common Sense readers last year, the BOC also violated the law in attempting to prevent the gay marriage ban and the presidential candidacy of Ralph Nader from finding their way onto the ballot in 2004.

This Board should be abolished and the functions of certifying petitions placed with Michigan's Secretary of State. But it is worth noting that this dysfunctional board is yet another "bi-partisan" government tribunal — more political than legal in its actions. Our founders warned us about factions and yet today there are more and more quasi-judicial bodies of government, from the Federal Election Commission to the Michigan Board of Canvassers, composed of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. It is as though justice (or the escape thereof) is only for Democrats and Republicans. Not for everyone.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative's proponents, including Jennifer Gratz, a plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case and State Rep. Leon Drolet, went to court to force the BOC to do its job. Michigan's Court of Appeals responded to the case by issuing a strongly worded order to the BOC to do its duty and certify the measure.

So on December 14 the BOC met to vote on the MCRI. The meeting was well-attended, if not attended-to well.

A group calling itself the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary decided to bring its own lawlessness to the meeting. This gang of loudmouth political agitators has expropriated Malcolm X's famous line and is known as "By Any Means Necessary," or BAMN. The word "lawful" is nowhere to be found as a modifier for "means."

BAMN, like its counterparts elsewhere, seeks to block a vote of the people. The people must not be allowed to decide. For their own sake, no doubt. By any means necessary.

The means chosen for the December 14 meeting? Chaos and intimidation in general, unruly students in particular. They bussed 250 Detroit public high school students to the meeting. Whenever cued by the adult instigators acting as their guardians, i.e. when the BOC began to vote on MCRI being placed on the 2006 ballot, these students would shout loudly. Give the agitators credit: you can't beat the high school pep rally experience.

When the shouting didn't seem to be enough, these students were corralled to the front of the room where they pushed over a table. Twelve police officers rushed in. (By the way, how does a group like BAMN come up with 250 high school students during a school day? Do our kids double as rent-a-protestors when we drop them off at school? Do they get extra credit for trampling democracy?) The strategy worked. The BOC meeting was abruptly canceled.

Yet, before the meeting broke up, in the midst of all the din, the Board actually did manage to vote on MCRI. And, once again, it failed to garner the necessary three votes to certify the measure for the ballot.

Board of Canvassers member Lynn Banks, who voted in favor of certification on the 14th but had refused to do so before the court order, said, "I have never in my 20 years of service seen such anarchy and lawlessness." But there was certainly plenty of lawlessness to go around, including (previously) her own.

Fortunately for the citizens of Michigan, the Michigan Court of Appeals over-rode the BOC and placed the initiative on the ballot for 2006.

Today, many leftists who call themselves "progressives" have turned against democracy. Instead, they embrace themselves as Marx's vanguard of the proletariat. Since the far left can't trust the little guy to vote they way they tell him to vote, then votes must be blocked, speech must be drowned out, political participation squelched.

Enjoy the holidays. For we have a tough battle ahead for the soul of America.

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Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.