Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action Overturned

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A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Michigan’s ban on affirmative action, enacted by voters in 2006, is unconstitutional.

In an 8-7 decision, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down the amendment to the state's constitution, known as Proposal 2, on the grounds that it creates unfair barriers to minority participation in the political process. A three-judge panel of the same court had overturned the ban on race-conscious admissions in 2011, but later vacated the decision.

Thursday’s decision explains: A white student who wanted to alter the University of Michigan’s admissions policies to include alumni relationships as a factor could petition university leadership or present her case to the board, but a black student seeking to have race included as a factor in admissions would be forced to attempt to amend the state’s constitution. Such a structure, the court found, is a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all citizens fair opportunity to enter the political process.

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