State preference ban still being contested
DETROIT – Michigan’s ban on racial preferences in public university admissions and government hiring was in court again Tuesday, another step closer to its assumed destination: the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I don’t see how they would give up, and we’re not either,” said George Washington, an attorney representing those fighting the ban.
Michael Rosman, attorney for the Washington-based Center for Individual Rights that has argued to keep the ban in place, agreed.
Any decision by the three-judge panel that heard oral arguments Tuesday can be appealed to the full 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati, or to the nation’s highest court. It would be up to those panels to decide whether they’d hear the case.
At issue is the decision by Michigan voters in 2006 to make illegal policies like those at the University of Michigan, where officials could consider race in admissions decisions.
For years, U–M had argued the policy helped build a diverse student body.
In fact, the percentages of African-American freshmen and law school students have since dropped among its freshman classes and law school students.
Wayne State University medical school also has seen a dip in its numbers of African-American students.
But those who supported the ban countered that non-minority candidates were sometimes turned away to make room for less-qualified minority candidates.
Passed in the November 2006 election, Proposal 2 became parts of the Michigan Constitution and a court docket.
The first challenge was turned down last year after a U.S. District Court denied a request to rule the ban unconstitutional.
U–M asked the 6th Circuit to remove the university from the suit, while Michigan’s Attorney General Mike Cox argued the will of the people – through the 2006 vote – should prevail.
Meanwhile, Eric Russell, who filed a suit to prevent U–M and other schools delaying the ban’s implementation so his application to U–M’s law school could be considered under the new law, is at WSU instead.
His application to U–M ultimately was turned down, but he said he found he liked WSU’s law school anyway.
He expects to graduate from WSU’s law school in the spring.