S.D. Melzer, OpinionJournal, Aug. 11
DETROIT — Liberals have been beating their collective breast in recent years over the Bush administration’s post-9/11 assault on civil liberties. But Michigan Democrats — from Gov. Jennifer Granholm to the State Board of Canvassers — have joined ranks with a radical, 1960s-style Trotskyite group to deny state residents the most basic of all rights: the right to vote.
The group, which lives in a Malcolm X-inspired fantasy world and calls itself By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), has been engaged in a long guerilla campaign to prevent the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) from getting on the state ballot.
This initiative, backed by Ward Connerly, the California businessman who successfully spearheaded a similar effort in his home state, seeks to end, once and for all, racial preferences in public universities and state government.
Polls have repeatedly shown that over 60% of Michigan voters oppose preferences, even though the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled them constitutional in a lawsuit challenging University of Michigan admission polices.
But instead of doing the hard work required in a democracy to convince voters, BAMN has been using its patented formula of political intimidation and legal harassment in an attempt to strangle the initiative in the crib. Last year, it disrupted initiative meetings on college campuses and tailed initiative signature-seekers, denouncing through bullhorns any student who approached them.
Undeterred, BAMN is now trying to invalidate the signatures. And, unfortunately, instead of distancing itself from BAMN’s thuggish tactics, the Democratic establishment in Michigan is backing them with its political muscle.
Despite the flimsiness of BAMN’s case, the Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer has joined BAMN in condemning the Republican secretary of state for certifying the petition signatures — never mind that career civil servants with unimpeachable credentials verified the signatures using long-established methods.
At a recent hearing held by the Board of Canvassers, supposedly to give both sides a fair opportunity to express their concerns, Mr. Brewer huddled with one of the Democratic members after the member called a five-minute recess. Soon after, the board split 2-1 along party lines (with the Granholm-appointed Republican member abstaining) and against the secretary of state’s recommendation refused to certify the petition — a move that even liberal editorial pages such as the Detroit Free Press and the Lansing State Journal condemned. MCRI has filed an appeal.