Affirmative Action Not Dead Yet: Appeals Court Strikes Down Michigan Ban

While the legality of affirmative action is under examination in the Fisher v. University of Texas U.S. Supreme Court case, a landmark ruling on a Michigan law by a federal appeals court this week may provide an indication of what’s to come.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati lifted Michigan’s ban on affirmative action, declaring it unconstitutional. The referendum, known as Proposition 2 and passed by 58 percent of voters in 2006, was declared illegal because it “undermines the Equal Protection Clause’s guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change,”Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote in the majority opinion.

Additionally, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), the group that challenged the ban, says it expects the number of Black and Latino students at universities to at least double once affirmative action is reinstituted.

Reactions to Affirmative Action in Michigan

“We are pleased that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has made the common-sense ruling that diversity can be a part of the consideration in university admissions, state hiring and state contracting. The private sector takes affirmative steps regularly to ensure that they have hiring, promotion and contracting practices that are inclusive,” says Thomas Costello, president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

He continues, “It is foolish to prevent the public sector from using the best practices of our most successful businesses and corporations. We hope that Michigan will again begin the judicious use of affirmative-action policies to ensure true equal access to opportunity in our state.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, however, has sworn to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, citing the need for merit-based admissions and a desire to uphold the fair rule of law. And Jennifer Gratz, the white plaintiff in the 2003 Supreme Court case that challenged University of Michigan undergraduate admissions policies, wrote on her Facebook wall: “The court has given me a clear mission: I must re-engage in the fight to guarantee fair and equal treatment for all. The court has no right to overturn the will of the people and decide that equality is unconstitutional.”

Read more reactions to the ruling.

What’s Affirmative Action’s Future

The decision comes at a critical watershed for affirmative actionthe U.S. Supreme Court currently is examining whether race-based college admissions are constitutional as a whole.The Fisher v. University of Texas case, which was heard in October and should be decided next year, could result in the repeal of the historic Grutter v. Bollinger decision from 2003, which upheld race was a viable factor in determining college acceptance.

Corporations who filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of affirmative action in the Fisher caseand attested to the bottom-line benefits of maintaining a diverse pipelineinclude several DiversityInc Top 50 companies: Aetna (No. 24), Merck & Co. (No. 16), Northrop Grumman (No. 42) andProcter & Gamble (No.5).

For more on affirmative action, read the following:

Ask the White Guy: Racism and Affirmative ActionWhy White Victims Are the Key to the Solution

Affirmative Action Benefits Whites Too More Than You Think

Affirmative Action: Why Is Ward Connerly Wrong

Latest News

Abbott on Why STEM Careers Are More Important Than Ever

Originally published at Abbott ranked No. 8 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused healthcare technology to take great leaps forward seemingly overnight. Around the world, doctors have adopted new ways of reaching patients; researchers have developed tools to diagnose,…

Google under examination

Google Parent Company in Turmoil With Reports of Pay Discrimination, Racist Firings and Creation of a New Union to Protect Employee Rights

Alphabet Inc., the company behind internet giants such as Google and YouTube, has faced a growing number of diversity-related controversies in the first few weeks of 2021.  Despite its incredible ongoing profitability — including a 23% increase in advertising and profits of $46 billion in the final quarter of 2020…

LGBTQ housing

Housing Discrimination Against LGBTQ Individuals Now Officially Illegal in the United States

In a historic first, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has confirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans will now be protected against housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. “In other words: it’s [now] illegal to deny someone housing for being LGBTQ,” said Nick Seip…

Comcast NBCUniversal Wants to Help You ‘Plan Your Vaccine,’ Launches Nationwide Awareness Campaign and Website

Originally published at Comcast NBCUniversal ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020. Comcast NBCUniversal announced the launch of Plan Your Vaccine, a nationwide awareness campaign, website and interactive tool that will provide the latest news and information about when and where people…