Court Overturns Michigan Affirmative-Action Ban

Tamar Lewin, New York Times | July 1, 2011

In the latest development in the decade-long battle over the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Friday struck down a 2006 state ban on the consideration of race and gender in admissions.

The court’s 2-to-1 ruling, which is likely to be appealed, said the voter-approved ban “unconstitutionally alters Michigan’s political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities.”

Kelly Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the university, said it was too soon to know whether the ruling would lead to a change in admissions policies.

“The university is reviewing the possible implications of the court’s decision, and recognizes that there may be further legal steps as well,” she said.

Michigan’s ban on affirmative action — covering both government hiring and admission to public colleges and universities — was made part of the state Constitution after a 2006 voter initiative that passed by 58 percent to 42 percent. It was known as Proposal 2 and prohibited public institutions from giving “preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.”

The voter initiative followed two 2003 decisions by the United States Supreme Court, which found that while the University of Michigan could not set quotas for certain racial groups, or give them extra points in admissions, it could consider race or ethnicity as one factor in admissions.  (Read m0re)