Opponent of affirmative action visits Valley
12 News
Feb. 9, 2008

A movement is underway to create an amendment in the Arizona state constitution that would ban preferential treatment by government and schools based on race.

Ward Connerly, nationally-known author and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, is heading up the movement in several states. Connerly's own heritage includes African American and Irish blood.

During his visit to Phoenix this week, Connerly told 12 News that the amendment is necessary to end discriminatory practices, especially in the universities.

"In hiring practices, race is used as a tie-breaker," Connerly said. "We need one standard, one single standard for everybody." According to hiring standards passed by the Arizona Board of Regents, "Between equally qualified candidates, preference shall be given to candidates whose hire will help correct under utilization as identified in university affirmative action plans..."

A spokesperson for the Arizona Board of Regents stresses that current policy is in line with federal standards. Race cannot be used as a factor in undergraduate admissions.

Opponents argue that the proposed amendment would, among other consequences, hurt many vital state programs, including a task force for prevention of violence against women.

"It is designed to create a divide among people, and pit one against the other," says attorney and minority activist Booker Evans.

Evans also argues that the state constitution already provides necessary civil rights protections.

"It's (the amendment) is something we don't need. We already have something in the constitution that already prohibits the conduct he's (Connerly) is trying to eliminate with this amendment," Evans says.