Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [official website] on Friday appealed a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] overturning the state's affirmative action ban. Proposal 2 [text; JURIST news archive], an amendment to the Michigan Constitution [text, PDF], bans affirmative action in public employment, public education and state contracting. Earlier this month, the Sixth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that Proposal 2 was unconstitutional [JURIST report] because it unduly burdens minorities by abusing a political process where minorities are likely to have no redress. In his official statement announcing [press release] he would appeal the court's ruling, Schuette said Proposal 2:
[E]mbodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law. . . Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit. Today we will continue the fight for quality, fairness and the rule of law. . . It's absurd to conclude that banning racial discrimination somehow perpetuates racial discrimination. It simply defies common sense.Schutte appealed the ruling by making a formal request [Reuters report] to the Sixth Circuit for a rehearing en banc in front of the full 16 member court. He is arguing for rehearing under the premise that the current decision conflicts with prior decisions of the court.
The Sixth Circuit's ruling reversed a 2008 decision by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] to dismiss the challenge [JURIST report] with prejudice. District Court Judge David Lawson had found that Proposal 2 was "facially neutral" regarding racial discrimination and did not violate the US Constitution. Michigan voters approved [JURIST report] the constitutional amendment in November 2006, and it was initially expected to take effect in late December 2006. In December 2006, a federal judge ruled that the universities could delay implementing the proposal [JURIST report] until the they had completed the 2006-2007 admission cycle under current procedures, but that order was later stayed [opinion, PDF] by the Sixth Circuit. The US Supreme Court [official website] declined [JURIST report] to consider whether the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University could delay implementing Proposal 2 in early 2007.