Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

July-08-11

MI Affirmative Action Ban

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit voted 2-1 to strike down the anti-affirmative action provision of the Michigan Constitution. That provision, which was passed in a 2006 referendum, banned any preferences on the basis of ethnicity, sex, or race, particularly affecting admissions policies at state universities. This decision overturned Article I, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution. Other states, including Arizona, California, Nebraska and Washington, have similar bans.

The 2006 referendum, also known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), was designed to "sound as if it advocated equal opportunity for minorities and women seeking public employment, public contracts or admission to public universities. In fact, it did away with programs created to support equal opportunity," as the Lansing State Journal described the initiative. Many reports on this ruling, and on the MCRI itself, fail to note that it also prohibits sex-based affirmative action, such as public school efforts to engage more girls in science and mathematics.

The passage of that referendum with 58 percent of the vote was an enormous loss for defenders of affirmative action, as well as for universities that are deeply impacted by the ban, like the University of Michigan. Following the referendum, the percentage of underrepresented minority students admitted to Michigan's freshman class dropped from 12.6 percent in the 2005 to 9.1 percent in 2008. In 2010, a class action lawsuit was filed against a similar California anti-affirmative action measure, Proposition 209, by the same Michigan-based group that brought the successful Michigan suit, arguing that the measure negatively affected the numbers of minority students, particularly at UCLA and Berkeley.

The dissenting judge and lone Republican appointee on the Sixth Circuit panel, Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, noted that the referendum actually overturned a decision that had been made by academics (i.e. admissions policies), not a political decision. She stated "Michigan has chosen to structure its university system such that politics plays no part in university admissions at all levels within its constitutionally created universities. The Michigan voters have therefore not restructured the political process in their state by amending their state constitution; they have merely employed it."

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that he will appeal the ruling because "MCRI embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law. Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit, and I will continue the fight for equality, fairness and rule of law." Critics of affirmative action expect the decision to be overturned by the full Sixth Circuit, which contains a substantial majority of conservative judges.

Media Resources: Inside Higher Ed 7/5/2011; Office of the Attorney General 7/1/2011; National Review Online 7/1/2011; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/22/2010; Feminist Daily Newswire 12/5/1996; Courthouse News Service 2/19/2010


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

5/27/2015 California Passes Reproductive FACT Act - The California State Assembly passed the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency (FACT) Act yesterday. AB 775, or the FACT Act, passed 48-25 in a vote, and requires that unlicensed facilities in California that provide pregnancy-related services disclose that they are not licensed medical providers. . . .
 
5/26/2015 Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage - Over the weekend, the people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to pass a national referendum legalizing same-sex marriage. Ireland became the first country in the world to pass marriage equality through popular vote on Friday. . . .
 
5/26/2015 Maryland Governor Will Not Veto LGBT Rights Bills - Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) has announced that he will not veto two pieces of legislation protecting LGBT rights passed by the state legislature in March, meaning they will soon become law. The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 743 / HB 862 and SB 416 / HB 838 by wide margins and with bipartisan support on March 24, after which both were sent to the Governor's desk. . . .