Court Strikes Down Michigan Affirmative Action Ban

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A federal appeals court has thrown out Michigan's voter-approved ban on affirmative action in college admissions and public hiring.

The court says the 2006 amendment to the Michigan Constitution is illegal because it presents an extraordinary burden to opponents who would have to mount their own long, expensive campaign to protect affirmative action.

The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said Thursday that the burden undermines a federal right that all citizens "have equal access to the tools of political change."

Michigan voters amended the constitution to ban the consideration of race in college admissions and government hiring. It forced the University of Michigan and other public schools to change policies.

In response, Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his intention to file a petition of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a split 8-7 en banc ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that overturned Article I, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution, otherwise known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI).

"MCRI embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law," said Schuette. "Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit. We are prepared to take the fight for quality, fairness and the rule of law to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Schuette will file a petition of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court within 90 days.

On July 1, 2011, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a 2-1 decision that declared Michigan's constitutional ban on racial preferences in public education unconstitutional on the grounds it allegedly violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Schuette filed a request for a rehearing en banc with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. The rehearing was considered by fifteen judges from the 6th Circuit on March 7, 2012. Two judges recused themselves from the rehearing.
MCRI was approved by a 58% majority of Michigan voters in November, 2006. The day after the measure was approved, several organizations filed suit to invalidate MCRI. The measure was previously upheld in December 2006 when a separate three judge panel from the 6th Circuit issued a preliminary ruling that unanimously concluded the measure passed Constitutional muster.

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