The Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative law firm based in Sacramento, California, wrote a letter to the City of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) earlier this month asserting that the City and the Schools are in violation of Michigan’s Proposal 2. The letter states that because the City and the Schools give preference to “disadvantaged” business enterprises and because they use race and sex to determine whether a business is “disadvantaged,” the two entities are in violation of the anti-affirmative action Proposal 2.
The letter cites a recent legal opinion by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox that determined the City of Grand Rapids was in violation of Proposal 2 and argues that this opinion, while specific to the City’s practices, is equally applicable to the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ program. The Pacific Legal Foundation threatened legal action, arguing that “the practice must stop or the City and the school district will be exposing themselves to potential litigation, with significant possible financial liability for taxpayers.” According to the Grand Rapids Press, the Grand Rapids Public Schools have suspended their program in light of Attorney General Mike Cox’s opinion.
The Pacific Legal Foundation is part of a network of rightwing legal organizations that have campaigned against affirmative action in recent years. According to its own website, the Pacific Legal Foundation has taken a leading role in defending California’s anti-affirmative Proposition 209. In addition, the Pacific Legal Foundation has been active in the fight to re-segregate public schools in the United States, repeatedly challenging policies that promote integration and racial diversity. Among the cases that the organization has been active in is a recent challenge to the historic Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling.
The Pacific Legal Foundation was founded in 1973 and has used the courts to advance a rightwing agenda, taking on cases attacking affirmative action, attacking environmental protections, and advancing the interests of businesses. It has been partially funded by conservative foundations and has received money from corporations, including $110,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998. The Foundation has received funding from many of the same foundations that have funded Ward Connerly and his anti-affirmative action campaigns around the country.
This is not the first time that rightwing organizations have stepped in to support Proposal 2. Shortly after the passage of Proposal 2, the Center for Individual Rights intervened to overturn an injunction delaying implementation. During the campaign for Proposal 2, the racist Council of Conservative Citizens and the Ku Klux Klan were among the few groups publicly endorsing Proposal 2.