Monday, November 06, 2006

A quota-million for quotas 

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports (subscriber link) that the Law School Admissions Council has given $250,000 to One United Michigan, a group formed to defeat the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. The initiative would amend the state constitution to prohibit any state agency, including state colleges, from using preference policies based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin or gender. The initiative, promulgated by the Center for Individual Rights (led by Ward Connerly).
Philip D. Shelton, president of the Law School Admission Council, said his group had contributed $100,000 to One United in September and had then received "sort of an emergency request" for $150,000 to help cover the cost of a week of radio advertisements opposing Proposal 2.

"Maintaining diversity in American legal education is a mission of the Law School Admission Council -- it goes to the very core of the mission we have," Mr. Shelton said on Friday. "We clearly have made a decision that defeating this anti-affirmative-action measure in Michigan was critically important to advancing our goals."

...Despite the spending advantage enjoyed by its opponents, Proposal 2 appears to have a good chance of passing. Proposal 2 remained ahead in pre-election polls as of last week, with about 45 percent of Michiganders supporting it, 40 percent opposed, and the rest undecided, according to a Detroit News/WXYZ-TV survey of 600 likely voters conducted October 31 through November 2 by the Lansing-based polling firm EPIC-MRA.

The good news for opponents of the measure is that the survey had a 4-percentage-point margin of error, other recent surveys have found Proposal 2 to be trailing slightly, and past studies by political scientists have shown that people who are undecided about a referendum tend at the last minute to vote no.

The bad news for Proposal 2's opponents is that other studies have shown that people are reluctant to give honest answers when pollsters ask their opinions related to race, and similar measures on the ballot in California and Washington State in the 1990s passed with significantly more support than pre-election polls had anticipated.
The American Council on Education reported that it could not contribute money due to tax statues, but that it has "been in regular contact with the campus presidents in Michigan" about its views.