Court Strikes Down Michigan Ban on Race in College Admissions

Jennifer Chambers and Oralandar Brand-Williams, The Detroit News, July 1, 2011

Michigan’s ban on using race and gender as a factor in admission to public colleges and universities was overturned today by a federal appeals court, which said the voter-approved measure harms minorities and is unconstitutional.

The 2-1 decision struck down Proposal 2, the 2006 law that had forced the University of Michigan and other state schools to revise their admission policies. The judges ruled that the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

{snip}

“Proposal 2 reorders the political process in Michigan to place special burdens on minority interests,” judges R. Guy Cole Jr. and Martha Craig Daughtrey said.

The ban, passed with 58 percent of the vote nearly five years ago, affected government hiring as well as college admissions.

{snip}

George Washington, the chief attorney for the law’s opponents, applauded the decision today.

“It’s a great victory. It means affirmative action is legal again in college admissions. It means that thousands of talented black, Latino and Native Americans can go to our public universities,” Washington said.

{snip}

However, the ruling could be appealed, Washington said, to the U.S. Supreme Court or the entire panel of the 6th Circuit Appeals Court.

{snip}

Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent who was a major backer of Proposal 2 and California’s similar Proposition 209, said the ruling means the people have no right to govern their own institutions.

“It’s saying the people have no right to insist that everyone be treated equality. It places the ultimate decision in the hands of the university–that they are supreme ones,” Connerly said by phone from California. “It’s a terrible, terrible decision that will not stand.”

{snip}

Opponents of Proposal 2 blamed the measure for declines in the percentage of minorities in U-M’s freshman classes in the years immediately after the ruling.

{snip}

The activist group By Any Means Necessary, which pursued the lawsuit to overturn Proposal 2, scheduled news conferences at 2 p.m. at the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor and 4 p.m. at 645 Griswold in Detroit to discuss the ruling. The Detroit Branch of the NAACP also scheduled a news conference at 3:30 p.m. to address the decision.

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  • Anonymous

    If the 14th Amendment clause provides for equal protection, then if you give preference to a group then a member of another group loses. The interpretation misses the point of equal protection to compete, it is not equal outcomes regardless of your ability to compete.

    Of course this would be thrown into chaos of Asia kids were deemed minority, as they would displace most other minorities in all intellectual tests short of basketball. And if it is truly minorities, then do whites qualify when they are in the minority? I thought not.

  • Anonymous

    I think the state of Michigan should take a very different approach to this. One of state sovereignty. The court is overstepping its bounds, and quite severely. If even one state on even one major issue like this, simply says one of two things, they could stop this nonsense permanently.

    Either, they should correctly point out that no, neither the 14th amendment nor any Constitution says any such thing (quite the opposite in fact) and they should correctly identify the court as making illegal decisions…and ignore them. This would put in place the VERY reasonable benchmark that a judge would have to successfully offer a legal argument to back up his ruling or it would be ignored….preferably followed by that judge’s dismissal for malfeasance. In other words, if only a reasonable person reading the Constitution would come to the same conclusion as the judge, then a ruling of that type would take effect. But if not, states would simply ignore it.

    Or, they should simply point out that NOTHING gives ANY court, even the Supreme Court and authority whatsoever to decide such things. Who told the courts they were allowed to measure laws by any yardstick, let alone a constitutional one. Nobody. They simply started acting as if they had that power one day. They do not. And they have no enforcement mechanism.

  • GB

    “It’s a great victory. It means affirmative action is legal again in college admissions. It means that thousands of talented black, Latino and Native Americans can go to our public universities,” Washington said.

    OK, I will be the first one to ask the obvious question:

    If they are so talented why can’t they get in without affirmative action?

    Could anyone tell me if Mr. Washington was asked this question, and if so, what his answer was?

  • OBSERVER

    Wow. Do you all read they hypocritical comments?

    So, if I DO NOT use race as a criteria, I am racist. If I DO use race, it is equality? Hmmmmm.

    I love the comment: “It means that thousands of talented black, Latino and Native Americans can go to our public universities,” Washington said. Uh, what was keeping them out? Since when does ANY University keep out “talented” blacks?

    Affirmative Action is used since they are NOT talented. They can’t pass the tests. They don’t have the ability THUS, they are let in due to the color of their skin ( an admission blacks are less intelligent than whites.)

    “The judges ruled that the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment” Equal protection means EQUAL treatment. So, if I consider the skin color of my next employee, that is ok? Good. I will only hire whites people since I don’t want to violate the equal protection clause.

    My head hurts.

  • Frank

    How does this law place special burdens on minorties? The Court has it backwards as to the equal protection clause. That clause says people will be treated equally, not some getting special consideration.

  • Harumphty Dumpty

    Both of the concurring judges were appointed by President Clinton. One is a black man and the other is a white woman.

    Photo and bio of Judge R. Guy Cole Jr.:

    “Judge Cole believes that his personal experiences of living in Birmingham through the most turbulent periods of the civil rights struggle prepared him for his current position as Circuit Judge. His interest in the justice system and equal rights were nurtured by those experiences, and he also developed a respect for the importance of a just and fair legal system.”

    http://goo.gl/Loc8W

    From bio of Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey:

    “She is especially proud of the accomplishments of their daughter, Carran

    (‘Carrie’), who is an assistant United States attorney in Nashville. In addition, Carrie, who found herself still single at 35, recently chose to adopt an 11-month-old girl from an orphanage in China.”

    http://wlh-static.law.stanford.edu/articles/Smith-Daughtrey.pdf

  • Anonymous

    I can’t wait until we see some real “harm done minorities.” With each ruling like this, they teach us the law means nothing, poltiics means nothing, voting means nothing. Eventually we will learn enough not to waste our time on these diversions. Then the real “racism” will begin….only it will well justified by a half century of teaching us that peaceful means will only be overturned and ignored. They did it to themsevles. We tried to play by the rules and they just changed the rules whenever we got even the smallest victory.

  • ice

    Why not give all the AA’s a degree and waive the requirement to spend four years attending classes and make it easier on everybody?

    There won’t be one single difference in the number of qualified blacks.

  • Tom S.

    *The judges ruled that the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

    Now let me get this straight – these “judges” think that a law BANNING the use of race and gender VIOLATES the equal protection clause! How does that make sense? Its really frightening to think that these mentally deranged idiots make decisions that affect millions of people.

    *It means that thousands of talented black, Latino and Native Americans can go to our public universities,” Washington said.

    Well if they’re so “talented” they shouldn’t have a problem getting in NOW. Once they’re in it will take THOUSANDS of hours of extra tutoring to bring these “talents” out, if ever!

    *The ban, passed with 58 percent of the vote nearly five years ago,-

    If we live in a democracy, how is it that acouple judges can invalidate\overule the votes of the majority of voters? This is done all the time and is one of THE main reasons we’re in the fix we’re in now. I remember years ago the voters of California voted to cut the benefits of illegals ( which might have saved them ) only to be overturned by a judge, and look at that state now. I’ve never understood how that could be legal.

  • E Pluribus Pluribus

    “Proposal 2 reorders the political process in Michigan to place special burdens on minority interests,” judges R. Guy Cole Jr. and Martha Craig Daughtrey said.

    ===

    No. It is not “Michigan’s ban on using race and gender as a factor in admission to public colleges and universities” that places special burdens on minority interests.” It is “the combination of well-documented racial differences in cognitive ability,” to quote Amy L. Wax of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, that imposes “burdens on minority interests.”

    Wax continues: “…the consistent link between ability and job performance [substitute academic performance] generates a pattern that experts term ‘the validity-diversity tradeoff’: job [admissions] selection devices that best predict future job [academic] performance generate the smallest number of minority hires in a broad range of positions . . .

    “….pronounced differences in the background distribution of skill and human capital, not arbitrary hurdles imposed by employers [admissions criteria], are the principle factor behind racial imbalances in most jobs [admissions]. Moreover, blacks lag behind whites in actual on-the-job [in-the-classroom] performance, which indicates that employers [universities] are not unfairly excluding minorities from the workforce but rather BENDING OVER BACKWARDS TO INCLUDE THEM [my all-caps].”

    SOURCE: “Disparate Impact Realism,” Amy L. Wax, University of Pennsylvania Law School, William & Mary Law Review, Forthcoming

    http://tinyurl.com/3spoj65