July 1, 2011
Sixth Circuit Invalidates Michigan Restrictions On Use of Race in School Admissions
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals just opened another chapter taking race into account for admission to public universities. Michigan voters passed Proposal 2 in 2006 which prohibited all sex- and race-based preferences in public education, public employment, and public contracting. This was pushed by Jennifer Gratz, the lead plaintiff in the famous Gratz v. Bollinger case (539 U.S. 244 (2003)), and Ward Connerly, a former University of California Chancellor who championed a similar proposal in California. The Court of Appeals today struck down the Michigan constitutional amendment as a violation of equal protection:
Our task is to determine whether Proposal 2 is constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Fortunately, the slate is not blank. The Supreme Court has twice held that equal protection does not permit the kind of political restructuring that Proposal 2 effected. See Washington v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 458 U.S. 457 (1982); Hunter v. Erickson, 393 U.S. 385 (1969). Applying Hunter and Seattle, we find that Proposal 2 unconstitutionally alters Michigan’s political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities.
The opinion, Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, et al. v. Regents of the Univ. of Mich., et al. (09-1111) is here. A story about the history of the case from the Detroit Free Press is here. The Supreme Court will likely have the last word on this. [MG]