Seeing Discrimination in Nondiscrimination; Michigan Case Should Go to Supreme Court

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Seeing Discrimination in Nondiscrimination; Michigan Case Should Go to Supreme Court


Byline: Bill Schuette, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In 2006, Michigan voters approved an amendment to their constitution prohibiting racial, gender and ethnic discrimination in public employment, public contracting and public education. Yet the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati struck it down last year.The language approved by 58 percent of the voters of the Great Lakes State is straightforward The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting (Article 1, Section 26).This amendment, known as Proposal 2, or the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), stands for the reasonable proposition that public contracts, public employment and admission into our public universities and colleges must be colorblind, gender-neutral and free of any ethnic bias or prejudice. The underlying rationale is the belief that when a student knocks at the door of one of Michigan's outstanding colleges or universities, seeking admittance, the educational door should swing open based on talent, merit and ability.MCRI states that there shall be no discrimination in public college admissions because of race, gender or ethnicity. As often is the case, lawsuits were filed, and judicial review followed. The constitutionality of Proposal 2 was upheld at its first stop, in the U.S. District Court in Detroit. The most recent en banc decision by the 6th Circuit took the opposite path, however, by a razor-thin margin of 8-7, with two judges not voting.In that decision, the 6th Circuit declared the efforts of the people of Michigan to prohibit discrimination in the admission policies of our public educational institutions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In an opinion that can only be construed as what is up is down, and what is down is sideways, the court stated that the Michigan approach of treating everyone equally and banning racial, gender and ethnic discrimination actually perpetuates discrimination. Confused? Join the crowd. Many were puzzled by the decision, including legal scholars and observers across the country.

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Seeing Discrimination in Nondiscrimination; Michigan Case Should Go to Supreme Court
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