American Civil Rights Institute

Founder Ward Connerly and the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) oppose affirmative action and any government/education policies that grant priority or preference to certain racial groups over others. ACRI has promoted legislation and "reform" in state policies and individual university or college criteria to end such programs. Continuing his state-by-state attack on affirmative action policies, Connerly co-founded the so-called "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative" (MCRI), a 2006 ballot initiative to ban affirmative action in state "hiring, contracting, and admissions to public schools." On November 7, 2006, Michigan voters approved the affirmative action ban by 58-42 percent.

American Civil Rights Institute
P.O. Box 188350
Sacramento CA 95818
Website: www.acri.org

Founder/Chairman: Ward Connerly
Vice Chairman: Thomas L. Rhodes (2003)
Founded/Place: 1997, California
Director: Edward J. Blum
Finances: $2,203,864 (2004)
Publications: The Egalitarian (newsletter)
Affiliate Groups: American Civil Rights Coalition; Michigan Civil Rights Initiative

Read the latest news on the American Civil Rights Institute on the group's Right Wing Watch index page

Purpose

The American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) opposes affirmative action and any government/education policies that take race into consideration. It has promoted legislation and "reform" in state policies and individual university or college criteria to end such programs. Founder Ward Connerly and ACRI's attacks on affirmative action policies have proved successful in California, Washington State and Michigan, but their efforts have failed in Florida.

History

In 1996, Ward Connerly led the so-called "California Civil Rights Initiative"— the successful campaign for a ballot referendum (Proposition 209) to end all affirmative action programs in California state government. The American Civil Rights Institute— American Civil Rights Coalition was formed by Connerly in 1997 to take the battle against affirmative action nationwide. Critics charge that Connerly used his 12-year position as a University of California Regent (1993-2005) as a "bully pulpit" to promote his divisive agenda.

Activities

  • 1998: Washington state voters approve "Initiative 200" which bans the state from using race, gender or sex to give preferential treatment in employment, contracting or public education admissions.
  • 1999: Connerly launches a petition drive in support of a 2000 ballot initiative to overturn affirmative action policies in Florida. While proponents of the "Florida Civil Rights Initiative" gathered enough signatures and waited for the state Supreme Court to approve the ballot language, momentum faltered and organizing stopped. In March 2000, a march on the state capitol in Tallahassee by thousands of civil rights supporters angered over Gov. Jeb Bush's own anti-affirmative action plan ("One Florida"), along with the concern of many Republicans that a 2000 ballot measure would increase moderate/progressive voter turnout and would hurt GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush, may have doomed the Florida Civil Rights Initiative.
  • 2002: ACRI's "Racial Privacy Initiative"— a "proposed constitutional amendment that would ban state and local governments from collecting racial data"— is certified for the California ballot. On October 7, 2003 California voters defeated the Racial Privacy Initiative (Prop 54) by a margin of 64% to 36%. Connerly blames "legal challenges filed by the unholy triumvirate of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" against ACRI and the American Civil Rights Coalition along with having the measure moved to the special election to recall Gov. Gray Davis as causes for its failure to pass.
  • January, 2003: The Individual Rights Foundation— the legal arm of David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture— submits an amicus brief [PDF file] on behalf of Ward Connerly to the U.S. Supreme Court inGrutter v. Bollinger & Gratz v. Bollinger, attacking the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan.
  • January 2003: The American Civil Rights Institute, along with the Center for Equal Opportunity and the Independent Women's Forum, filed an amicus brief [PDF file] with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the petitioners in Grutter v. Bollinger & Gratz v. Bollinger.
  • October 2003: The American Civil Rights Institute, along with the Center for Equal Opportunity and the Independent Women's Forum, files a friend-of-the-court brief [PDF file] with the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief urges the Court to grant review in Grutter v. Bollinger.
  • Connerly is a co-founder of the "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative"— which formed to place an anti-affirmative action ballot measure on the 2006 ballot. According to its website, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) would amend "the Michigan Constitution to prohibit discrimination by state and local governments against anyone based on their race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. The ban would apply to hiring, contracting, and admissions to public schools." The MCRI was endorsed by the Mystic Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. On November 7, 2006, Michigan voters approved the affirmative action ban (Proposal 2) by 58-42 percent.

Funding

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee gave Connerly $700,000 in 2001 for the anti-affirmative action campaign in California. That same year he got $200,000 from Richard Mellon Scaife, and another $150,000 from the Olin Foundation. In 2005, Connerly was named a "Bradley Prize" honoree by the Bradley Foundation and awarded $250,000 by the right-wing foundation.

Quotes

"Recent events in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have reaffirmed for me, however, the complete folly of any Republican strategy to increase black representation in the Republican Party by appeals based on race. Whatever the name— 'African American Outreach' or 'Black Republicans for Bush'— any effort to attract blacks or any other ethnic group to the Republican party, based on explicit or implicit appeals to race or ethnic identity, are not only a waste of time and resources, but are also misguided and potentially quite damaging to the nation."— Ward Connerly ["End the Race Party," National Review, September 30, 2005]

"Let it be said that when given a chance to complete the liberation of black Americans, on June 23, 2003 five justices consigned them to another generation — or, perhaps, a term of indefinite duration — of virtual enslavement to the past."— Ward Connerly, responding to the U.S. Supreme Court's Michigan rulings ["Murder at the Supreme Court," National Review, July 26, 2003]

"The Grutter and Gratz decisions, taken together, represent a sad and tragic chapter in American history."— Ward Connerly, responding to the U.S. Supreme Court's Michigan rulings [National Review, July 26, 2003]

"The court made a very ambiguous ruling - and a sickening one. It left the nation in the position of agony. . . . We will be fighting this battle for another 25 years or more."— Ward Connerly, responding to the U.S. Supreme Court's Michigan rulings [Washington Times, July 24, 2003]

"Passionate ideological opposition to race preferences does not seem to be part of the Bush DNA, and President Bush has been no exception to this rule . . . It is not the legitimate business of government in America to promote 'diversity.'"— Ward Connerly on the White House briefs in the Supreme Court Michigan cases, Washington Times [January 21, 2003]


Updated: November 2006

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