Three-Judge Panel of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Michigan’s Ban on Affirmative Action Admissions Is Unconstitutional

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposal 2 which was passed by Michigan voters in 2006 by a 58-42 margin. The referendum then became part of the state constitution. It banned the use of race in hiring or contracting by any agency of the state government. The ban included the consideration of race in making admissions decisions at state-operated colleges and universities.

The ban on race-sensitive admissions has resulted in lower black enrollments at the University of Michigan. In 2006, before the ban went into effect, there were 2,454 African Americans enrolled at all levels of the University of Michigan. In 2010, there were 1,777 African-American students on campus. This is a reduction of 27.6 percent. During the same period. overall enrollments at the University of Michigan increased by more than 3,000 students.

The 2-1 majority ruled that Proposal 2 placed “special burdens on minority interests” and therefore violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

State officials have stated they plan to appeal the decision to the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the case may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the case is under the appeal, the University of Michigan will, in all liklihood, not reinstitute race-sensitive admissions.