Appeals Court Tosses Michigan Affirmative Action Ban

BAMN rally on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol against Proposal 2

A 15-judge federal appeals court panel has tossed out a controversial affirmative action ban in Michigan. The much-debated Proposal 2 has been deemed unconstitutional, due to its “unequal political process for individuals who seek to urge universities to consider race as one of many factors in admissions.”

"Today’s landmark decision reaffirms the cornerstone principle of our democracy—that the political process must be open to all Americans,” said Mark Rosenbaum, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney and University of Michigan professor who argued the case. “It restores the argument that race is not to be disadvantaged when universities seek to enroll a diverse student body. Somewhere Lincoln and Dr. King are smiling.”

The lawsuit, filed in 2006 by the ACLU, NAACP, NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore, LLP, challenged the constitutional amendment, which sought to dismiss affirmative action. 

In 2011, Proposal 2 was struck down due to its violation of the Equal Protection Clause, but the appeals court granted Michigan’s attorney general to reconsider the decision. Proposal 2’s impact reached the University of Michigan where the number of African-Americans enrolled as freshmen declined nearly 15 percent from 2006 to 2010. The enrollment of Blacks at its law school dropped by 28 percent.

To read more about the lawsuit, visit the ACLU of Michigan's website.