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Posted on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Mary Sue Coleman: Michigan will 'wait and see' how affirmative action fares in federal courts before changing policy

By Kellie Woodhouse

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman said Monday that the institution would take a "wait and see attitude" on affirmative action.


Mary Sue Coleman

Daniel Brenner |

Coleman's statement comes less than two weeks after a federal appellate court, in an 8-7 vote, struck down a voter-approved 2006 constitutional amendment that banned affirmative action practices by Michigan's 15 public colleges.

University officials are hesitant to reinstate formerly used affirmative action policies due to the possibility the ruling could be further appealed and because of an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case that is examining the lawfulness of affirmative action.

"There are so many moving parts right now," Coleman said.

The appellate court ruling, issued Nov. 15, was a victory for U-M, which has championed affirmative action for more than a decade. However, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette —who opposes considering race in admissions and has said admissions policies "must be based upon merit"— has vowed to appeal the ruling to the next level: the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile the country's highest court already is considering affirmative action policies in Fisher v. University of Texas, a current case examining whether the University of Texas' consideration of race in admissions is fair and lawful. Prior to oral arguments in October, U-M attorneys filed a brief in support of Texas and affirmative action policies.

Fisher v. University of Texas is the first time the U.S. Supreme Court has debated affirmative action policies since the 2002 Grutter v. Bollinger case, in which justices ruled that U-M could consider race in admissions but found that the school's existing policy considered race too heavily.

"Clearly we look at this very carefully," Coleman told faculty leaders during a Monday meeting. She said that the school is waiting to see whether Schuette appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and whether the high court accepts the case before re-establishing affirmative action admissions policies. The school, along with hundreds of others, also will look toward the Supreme Court decision —which is expected in 2013— in the Fisher v. University of Texas case.

"The attorney general has requested a stay [so] we will take a wait and see... attitude," said Coleman, who has long been a supporter of affirmative action policies.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Emmett Lathrop Brown

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

Wow, there's a lot of talk about lies and political corruption factoring into this decision. The ballot initiative decision disproportionately affects minorities, especially young black men, who are incarcerated at 13 times the rate that they are enrolled in college programs in Michigan. A clear case of where the equal protection clause is needed to combat institutional racism in our state; furthermore the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative the POLITICAL coalition that got the measure on the ballot in the first place makes its deceitful rhetoric apparent in its very name. I wonder if the folks commenting believe they had the same educational opportunities as poor minority students from inner city Detroit, because I think our unequal educational system is preposterous, and affirmative action is necessary to combat that which far to many people in Michigan turn a blind eye to.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Affirmative action as usually implemented is a quota program and a type of discrimination against certain groups. Do we want our country to be in favor of discrimination for certain special groups because they are politically well-connected? That is politically corrupt.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 4:24 a.m.

What an outrageous example of judicial activism the 6th Circuit's decision is. Who needs voters when our judges "know better"? The best way to end discrimination based on race is to stop discriminating based on race. Precisely what the voters said.

Matthew Countryman

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

UofM lawyers were not involved in the case that led to the federal appellate court ruling. The case was brought and argued by two groups of attorneys from civil rights organizations.

Lawrence Bogner

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

The decision rendered by the courts on such a clear cut matter will determine whether those of us that understand the English language have any respect for the judiciary. To suggest that the amendment is in conflict with the equal protection clause is absolutely preposterous. This is just another example of the amazing capacity of the left to call black white, and white black. Truth will always be truth, and lies will always be lies.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Perhaps it is not such a "clear cut matter". One should read the opinions before supposing they know law, much less the English language.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

"...We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on, we're going to survive.. Today we celebrate our independence day!" [President Whitmore's rallying speech against alien attack upon Earth - movie "Independence Day"]


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

Nahhh. Let's take a "wait and see attitude" on that affirmative action stuff.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

If affirmative action is re-instated will it be used to determine admission to Med School? Or is preferential admission only given to 'less important' programs?


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

That is so right ! It will be just great to think of all those driven drug profiteers and passionate pedophiles who have been displaced thanks to affirmative action programs at the U. Not to mention the valedictorians that will never be admitted who might go on to beat their poor moms to death.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

If I'm looking into the eyes of my surgeon during my operation, I'm gonna be WAY MORE WORRIED about how my ANESTHESIOLOGIST got through school.