Appeals Court Rejects Michigan's Ban on Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Appeals Court Rejects Michigan's Ban on Affirmative Action in College Admissions

November 20, 2012

A narrowly divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down a voter-approved ban on affirmative action in college admissions, holding that the measure creates unfair barriers to minority participation in the political process, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved the ban in 2006 when they passed a referendum called Proposal 2, also known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated the Michigan ballot measure and overturned a 2008 federal district court ruling that previously upheld it. Writing for the majority, Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. said that the ban presented an extraordinary burden to its opponents, who would have to conduct their own long campaign to protect affirmative action at the polls. That burden undermines opponents' 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, Judge Cole wrote.

The court's decision did not delve into the legality of race-conscious admissions policies but focused instead on the constitutionality of ballot measures that restrict the government's consideration of race, the Chronicle reported.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reconsidering the constitutionality of affirmative action. Experts note that a decision in the Fisher v. University of Texas case could impact the eventual outcome in Michigan “ potentially making Thursday's decision moot, if the Supreme Court rules against race-conscious admissions, according to Inside Higher Ed. Likewise, the Michigan ruling could affect whether the Supreme Court would hear an appeal of the Sixth Circuit Court's ruling.


Related Links:

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Inside Higher Ed

Michelle Cormier Mott

In the Courts