Education | Law

6th Circuit rejects voter ban on affirmative action in Michigan





A full panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals narrowly rejected a voter approved ban on affirmative action in Michigan.

Voters approved Proposition 2 in 2006. It bans affirmative action in government hiring, government contracting and admission to public universities in the state.

Ruling on admissions, the 6th Circuit said the ban places an unfair burden on people who would otherwise support a "constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy." The proposition also takes away the power of public universities to develop their own policies, the decision stated.

"Because Proposal 2 entrenched the ban on all race-conscious admissions policies at the highest level, this last resort — the campaign for a constitutional amendment — is the sole recourse available to a Michigan citizen who supports enacting such policies," Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote for the majority in the 8-7 decision.

"That citizen must now begin by convincing the Michigan electorate to amend its constitution—an extraordinarily expensive process and the most arduous of all the possible channels for change," Cole wrote.

Members of federally recognized tribes who live in Michigan are eligible for the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver. The state says program hasn't been affected by Proposition 2.

"The Indian Tuition Waiver statute remains constitutional only to the extent that it is not based upon a student’s race or national origin, but upon the political interrelationship that exists with sovereign tribes," according to a FAQ from the state civil rights department.

Get the Story:
Affirmative Action Ban in Michigan Is Rejected (The New York Times 8/16)

6th Circuit Decision:
Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Regents of the University of Michigan (November 15, 2012)