Phi Beta Cons

Flypaper for Racial Prefies

BAMN’s erstwhile allies have decided the lawsuit against the state of Michigan is by no means necessary.
After Michigan voters passed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in November 2006, ending racial preferences, defenders of the old regime rushed to court with a series of lawsuits they hoped would block the law from taking effect. They were in for a surprise. The Washington-based Center for Individual Rights (CIR) decided to use the occasion to force the state’s universities to divulge eleven years of data on how racial preferences really work.
Now the NAACP and the ACLU are in a hurry to end the suit they helped to bring. But they face an obstacle. Their former ally, a radical advocacy group with the telling name, “By Any Mean Necessary” — BAMN — wants the suit to continue. During the run-up to the 2006 ballot measure, BAMN earned a murky reputation. It brought in thuggish teenagers to disrupt public meetings, threatened initiative supporters with violence, and played the Michigan court system like a pile of scratch tickets.
It is a close call whether BAMN’s opposition hurt the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. BAMN created noise, but it also drew attention to the roiling resentment and entitlement mentality of some advocates of racial preferences. The mixture of declared lawlessness (by any means necessary) and resort to endless legalistic maneuvers cast the whole pro-preference side of the debate into a dubious light. Nonetheless, mainstream politicians of both parties and organizations such as the NAACP and the ACLU allied themselves with BAMN

For supporters of genuine civil rights, BAMN is the gift that keeps on giving. Its determination to forge ahead with the lawsuit could well mean that universities will have to divulge data that they have been carefully hiding. The data will show how recipients of racial preferences actually perform when they are admitted to college. UCLA law professor Richard Sander has been developing a statistical analysis that strongly suggests that at least in some higher education contexts, the recipients of preferences are “mismatched” to the programs they are admitted to and face lower grades, higher dropout rates, and diminished chances of ultimate success. Professor Sander is working with the Center for Individual Rights to analyze the Michigan data if the lawsuit proceeds.
As matters stand, the NAACP and the ACLU will be in court today (Wednesday) asking for summary judgment. It is their latest attempt to extract themselves from the case. BAMN, however, is asking Federal District Court Judge David Lawson to let the case go to trial. Kudos to Charles J. Cooper, the attorney for CIR who has turned the case into flypaper for the racial preference establishment. Kudos too to Michigan resident Eric Russell, who joined the case in December 2006 to support the newly enacted Civil Rights Initiative. CIR and Cooper are representing Russell, who in a sense is the Everyman Michigan citizen.

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