A statement by the ACLU of Michigan, Detroit Branch NAACP, the Michigan State Conference NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), and the national ACLU.

The ACLU, NAACP and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) announced today that they oppose the Michigan Attorney General’s request to convene a special 16-judge panel to reconsider the court’s decision this month striking down Michigan’s Proposal 2.  The attorney general expressed his plans to request a rehearing by the full court of appeals today. 

The following statement can be attributed to Mark Rosenbaum, American Civil Liberties Union attorney and University of Michigan professor who argued the case on behalf of a group of students, faculty and prospective applicants to the University of Michigan:

“The appeals court should deny the attorney general’s extraordinary request to have the full court reconsider its well-reasoned decision striking down Proposal 2. The Supreme Court has held that a state law is unconstitutional when it makes it more difficult for racial minorities to achieve legislation that is in their interest. Proposal 2 is precisely the unfair political structure that the appeals court struck down.”

In addition, the following statement can be attributed to John Payton, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

“The Constitution requires that our democratic processes must be open and accessible to all citizens, regardless of their race.  There is no reason to revisit the Court of Appeals’ decision upholding this critical principle.”

In addition, the following statement can be attributed to Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit Branch NAACP president.

”Diverse classrooms promote academic excellence and prepare students for success in an increasingly diverse workforce and global society. This is a settled fact, and settled law. Proposal 2 treats students of color unequally in the admissions process, and it diminishes the quality of our system of higher education. That is why we applaud the federal appeals court decision and will do all we can to ensure that it remains the law.”

Factual Background:

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down a Michigan ballot initiative, commonly known as “Proposal 2,” because it unconstitutionally limits fair access to the state’s political processes for all individuals, regardless of their race.  A separate case, filed by a group called BAMN, was consolidated with this case.

Passed in 2006, Proposal 2 was a deliberate effort to prohibit precisely the types of admissions policies that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) as constitutionally permissible approaches to ensuring pathways to leadership in our nation’s civic, political, and economic life. 

The Court of Appeals correctly concluded that Proposal 2 unconstitutionally imposed “special procedural barriers to minority interests.” For instance, if an alumni association thought children of alumni should be given extra consideration in admissions, all it would have to do is lobby the admissions committee. However, if students of color wanted to reinstate the consideration of race as one of many factors in state university admissions, Proposal 2 forces them to embark on the arduous and expensive task of amending the Michigan Constitution.