Appeals Court Invalidates Michigan’s Affirmative-Action Ban

by Roger Clegg

This fall is already a busy term for the Supreme Court in the civil-rights area, with cases challenging racial preferences in university admissions (Fisher v. Texas) and the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v. Holder).

Now it’s likely to become even busier: Yesterday the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled 8–7 that it was unconstitutional for the people of Michigan to ban preferences and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and sex in state and local government contracting, employment, and education (including public universities). That’s right, folks, you can’t make this sort of thing up: The judges on that circuit have determined that it is a denial of the “equal protection of the laws” to ban preferential treatment. The Michigan state attorney general has promised to file a petition for review with the Supreme Court, and it’s likely the Court will grant review and set things right. We might be able to make lemonade out of today’s lemon of a ruling.

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