July 28, 2011
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his appeal of a split ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that overturned Article I, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution, otherwise known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI).
"MCRI embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law," said Schuette. "Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit. Today we will continue the fight for quality, fairness and the rule of law."
On July 1, 2011, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a 2-1 decision that declared Michigan's constitutional ban on racial preferences in public education unconstitutional on the grounds it allegedly violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Schuette will appeal the ruling through a formal request for rehearing en banc with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. A rehearing en banc involves presenting the case to the full court (all sixteen judges) of the 6th Circuit for review. This process is reserved when new decisions conflict with previous rulings, and for questions of "exceptional importance" (Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure - 35).
"It's absurd to conclude that banning racial discrimination somehow perpetuates racial discrimination. It simply defies common sense," said Schuette.
Schuette noted that the Sixth Circuit ruling conflicts with earlier rulings of the same court in this suit, and is also in conflict with rulings by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court, which upheld the nearly identical California ban on racial and gender preferences, Prop 209.
MCRI was approved by a 58% majority of Michigan voters in November, 2006. The day after the measure was approved, several organizations filed suit to invalidate MCRI. The measure was previously upheld in December 2006 when a separate three judge panel from the 6th Circuit issued a preliminary ruling that unanimously concluded the measure passed Constitutional muster.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will remain in force pending a final decision by the court.