Attorney General, Civil Rights Advocates Respond to Affirmative Action Ruling

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Michigan's voter-approved ban on affirmative action in college admissions is unconstitutional - for now.

A federal court of appeals overturned it by an 8-7 vote Thursday, and now Michigan's attorney general and civil rights advocates are speaking out about the decision as universities figure out what it means for them.

Attorney General Bill Schuette's office called the ruling 'disappointing,' and is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Prepared to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the Michigan Constitution, and he will argue that entrance to our public universities should be based on equality, fairness, and the rule of law," Attorney General Press Secretary Joy Yearout said. "If you look at the logic of it, it simply defies common sense. What the court said today was that when you ban discrimination, you're actually creating discrimination, and it just doesn't make sense at all.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights sees the overturning of Michigan's affirmative action ban a bit differently.

"We believe that this is a decision in the best interest of both the students and the universities in Michigan," Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Civil Rights Leslee Fritz said.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that part of the 2006 voter-initiated amendment, known as Proposal 2, was unconstitutional because it placed an unfair burden on racial minorities.

"Setting a different standard for admissions policies on race created a violation of the equal protection clause," Fritz said.

Michigan State University said in a statement it's reviewing the court's opinion, but they've always considered a range of factors for admission.

"Certainly universities in Michigan all have different policies about how they address the issues of diversity and fairness in their admissions policies," Fritz said. "They know what's right for their students and student body, and that's where these decisions really should be made, and not with politicians."

But some argue this was the will of the people; 58 percent voted 'yes' on Proposal 2.

"This amendment to the constitution was approved by a substantial majority of Michigan voters in 2006, and the Attorney General is committed to respecting the will of the voters, and expects the Supreme Court to agree," Yearout said.

The Attorney General has 90 days to file his request with the Supreme Court. His office expects to take that action in the next couple of weeks.

Yearout said the ruling has no immediate impact on university admissions. The ruling doesn't become binding until the court of appeals issues a formal mandate. The attorney general is asking that be delayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court's Reviews.

The Department of Civil Rights said it expected this response from the attorney general, and they'll just wait and keep advocating.

Many eyes are also on an affirmative action-related case in Texas. MSU and other organizations said they're watching it closely to see how it might impact Michigan.


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  • by Mark Location: GL on Nov 28, 2012 at 05:40 AM
    @Drake; I was told the same thing by a UofM admissions rep. when they came to my high school. He told me, "Don't waste your time even filling out the app." when I asked why, his response was, "You're demographics aren't in your favor. You would have needed a 4.0 GPA and perfect ACT for us to look at you." I will never forget that. He didn't even look up from what he was doing. Granted, this was about 11 years ago, but I'm sure it still happens.
  • by Drake Location: Holt on Nov 23, 2012 at 08:08 PM
    MSU already discriminates. My son was told by MSU admitions he would not be admitted because he was a white, male, and from this area (Lansing)
  • by Anonymous on Nov 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM
    I knew that comment would PO some Indian--lighten up!! However I AM a native American by the definition--I was born in America therefore I am a native...sorry, you all don't get a monopoly on the term "native".
  • by Native American Location: Location on Nov 21, 2012 at 10:31 AM
    Wow. You have missed the entire meaning of Native American.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 21, 2012 at 06:21 AM
    I'm going to start checking the "native American" box on application--I was born in America so I'm a "native American"...now gimme my extra points!!!
  • by Name Location: Location on Nov 20, 2012 at 09:41 AM
    "The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that part of the 2006 voter-initiated amendment, known as Proposal 2, was unconstitutional because it placed an unfair burden on racial minorities" Why? Beacause we wouldn't be grading certain groups on a curve anymore? Heaven forbid the path to secondary education is based on academic ability. Once you start giving "bonus points" as the University of Michigan did (maybe still does) for answering certain demographic information "correctly" nothing has been done to "fix" the system. You can google the investigation on UofM giving extra admission points to minority students for no other reason than they are minority. This study was done in 2004 I believe. While the vote in 06 may have corrected this, over turning it will take us right back to 2004. In 2007 the Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights commission admitted that prop 2 did not end all afirmative action or diversity initiatives in the State. These kinds of systems (that prop 2 banned), meant to grant "opportunity" to some, end up taking it away from others who also deserve FAIR chance. Once again, white young men and women will be forced to try to get in to competetive schools with one hand tied behind their back. That is once the Court of Appeals issues their mandate.
  • by RITTER Location: LANSING on Nov 16, 2012 at 09:47 AM
    "This amendment to the constitution was approved by a substantial majority of Michigan voters in 2006, and the Attorney General is committed to respecting the will of the voters, and expects the Supreme Court to agree," Yearout said. FUNNY.... HE SURE DOESN'T RESPECT THE WILL OF THE VOTERS ON THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW
  • by Steve Location: B on Nov 16, 2012 at 08:33 AM
    So, let's see here: ""This amendment to the constitution was approved by a substantial majority of Michigan voters in 2006, and the Attorney General is committed to respecting the will of the voters, and expects the Supreme Court to agree," Yearout said." Really? Is that why he's trying to go against the Medical Marijuana vote from 2008? Because he is committed to respecting the will of the voters?
  • by Name Location: Location on Nov 16, 2012 at 08:15 AM
    Affirmative action is an excuse to say that people think im racist, but to show im not, I have to be a racist to the other extreme.
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