Supporters of Michigan’s Proposal 2 won a key legal battle late Friday, as a federal appeals court lifted an injunction that had given the state’s three major universities six more months to comply with parts of the new law.
The opinion means the state’s voter-approved ban on some types of public affirmative action program goes into full effect as court cases proceed.
At least one pro-affirmative action group already is planning to appeal Friday’s ruling.
Michigan voters approved Proposal 2 — which bans the use of race and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring and contracting — in November. The new law took effect Dec. 23, except for admissions and financial aid decisions for the incoming classes at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University.
That exception was granted earlier this month by U.S. District Judge David Lawson. The extension would expire July 1.
The appeals court said federal law does not warrant providing an extension.
“In the absence of any likelihood of prevailing in invalidating this state initiative on federal grounds, we have no choice but to permit its enforcement in accordance with the state-law framework that gave it birth,” the three-judge panel of 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati wrote.
The appeals court said that while the U.S. Constitution may permit states to grant race and gender preferences in some narrow instances, it does not mandate preferences or stop a state from prohibiting them. The appeals court said a suspension of Proposal 2 enforcement is an issue that could be decided in state courts rather than federal courts.
The universities asked for the extension because they already had begun the admissions cycles for next year’s students before Proposal 2 passed. The universities want to complete the cycles using the same standards that have been in place since the process began earlier this year.
Those cycles mostly affect students who would enter college in fall 2007.
Lawyers for both Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Attorney General Mike Cox signed off on the extension.
But the extension was opposed by the Center for Individual Rights, which represents Eric Russell, an Auburn Hills man applying to the University of Michigan Law School.
The group wants immediate enforcement of Proposal 2.
“To say the least, I am very pleased,” Russell said of the ruling. “This is a victory for all the people in Michigan who voted ‘yes’ on Proposal 2.”
The original lawsuit in the Proposal 2 case was filed by a pro-affirmative action group called By Any Means Necessary. The group seeks to block the implementation of Proposal 2.
BAMN attorney George Washington said his group would look at appeals to the full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
Washington said he was angry that the appeals court ruled without any testimony in the case, relying instead on written briefs filed by parties in the last two days.
“They just issued this based on their personal beliefs,” Washington said.
Kelly Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the University of Michigan, said Friday night the school was reviewing the ruling.
Another suit before Lawson was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP. That suit argues the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution permits some university affirmative action, despite the state ban.
Reader comments on this story:
There are currently 2 reader comments on this story:
This decision is a timely tribute to the spirit of MLK Jr. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”
King was so successful because he asked only for what is just – no more, no less. What a shame to see those who would claim to be his successors forget his timeless lesson. Let us not forget his spirit as we celebrate this Martin Luther King day.
Madison Heights, MI
“the real hypocrisy”
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