University of Michigan has no plans to alter admissions process after federal court ruling
The University of Michigan will not make any immediate changes to admissions policies after a federal appeals court overturned a state ban on using affirmative action in college admission or employment decisions, officials said.
By a 2-1 vote, judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled the ban on using race as a factor in college admissions and public employment to be unconstitutional. The ruling overturned a 2006 amendment to the state’s constitution that was approved by voters.
University spokesperson Kelly Cunningham issued a brief statement Friday indicating that U-M would be making no immediate changes to its admissions policies.
“The university is reviewing the possible implications of the court’s decision, and recognizes that there may be further legal steps as well,” Cunningham said.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced he will appeal the ruling by the court, which would keep the amendment in force while the case remains in the courts.
Schuette said the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, as the 2006 ballot initiative is known, "embodies the fundamental premise'' of equal opportunity.
“Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit, and I will continue to fight for equality, fairness and rule of law,” he said.
Since Proposal 2 was passed in the fall of 2006, the number of black students attending the University of Michigan has dropped every year until the 2010 freshman class entered the university.
According to university statistics, 1,709 black students attended the school in the fall of 2006 — about 6.6 percent of the freshman class. That number dropped to 1,531 in the fall of 2009, about 5.6 percent of the freshman class, before rising to 1,548 or 5.7 percent of the class, in 2010.
Among graduate students, more black students attened the university in the fall of 2010 than in the fall of 2006. However, the percentage of black students as compared to the rest of the class also dropped every year from 2006 to 2009, before rising in 2010.
Approximately 5.3 percent of graduate students attended graduate schools in 2006, or 569 students, were black. In 2010, 570 black students attended U-M graduate schools, but made up 4.6 percent of the incoming class.
To view a full PDF of demographic information from the university, click here.
The lawsuit was brought by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight For Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) against the regents from the University of Michigan, trustees from Michigan State University, the Board of Governors of Wayne State University, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and WSU President Irvin Reid.
By prohibiting preferential treatment “to any individual on the basis of race, sex, color ethnicity or national origin,” Proposal 2 was an illegal political restructuring, U.S. Appeals CourtJudge R. Guy Cole wrote.
“We find that Proposal 2 unconstitutionally alters Michigan’s political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities,” he wrote in the majority opinion.
Read the full decision by clicking here.
George Washington, the attorney who represented BAMN, cheered the decision and said doors would be open to racial minorities that had been closed.
“The Sixth Circuit held that Michigan could not manipulate the political process by making it impossible for racial minorities to seek admission programs that benefited them while allowing every other group to seek any admission program that they wanted,” Washington said in a statement.
Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director, also rejoiced at the decision, calling it a “tremendous victory for equality.”
“Today’s ruling has kept the door open for thousands of academically qualified students of color to continue to pursue the American dream through our state’s colleges and universities,” she said in a statement.
One of the main proponents of the amendment in 2006 was less than complimentary of the court’s decision.
Jennifer Gratz, who took a lawsuit against U-M to the Supreme Court to ban the university’s racial point system in admissions and is currently the director of research and the director of state and local initiatives at the American Civil Rights Institute, called court’s decision “ludicrous” and urged universities and public employers to hold off on changing their policies.
“I don’t believe it will stand long-term,” Gratz said. “The justification for the ruling is ludicrous. The judges are trying to be supreme rulers, maybe they missed the fact that Michigan has the right to petition the government and vote on issues on the ballot.”