Coalition Wins Clear Victory for Justice

July 1, 2011 – The U.S. Appeals Court affirmed America’s promise by striking down a 2006 amendment to the Michigan constitution which prohibited all affirmative action policies, including those previously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 2-1 decision.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) applauded the Appeals Court decision allowing public universities and public employers in Michigan to continue to use affirmative action to ensure a diverse student body and workforce.

“Today’s appeals court ruling is a victory for the civil and human rights community and could not have come at a better time than Independence weekend,” said Yvonne M. White, NAACP Michigan State Conference President. “Prop 2 was a huge step backwards that rolled back progress for thousands of Michigan families, especially women and minorities.”

The voter-initiated amendment, known as Proposal 2, took effect in December 2006, according to the Cincinnati-based appellate panel, in the wake of two 2003 U.S. Supreme Court rulings that said while universities couldn’t establish racial group quotas, they could consider race, ethnicity and other factors.

“We find that Proposal 2 unconstitutionally alters Michigan’s political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities,” the appellate court majority said today.

The federal lawsuit was filed in 2006 on behalf of 18 students, faculty and applicants to the University of Michigan by a coalition of civil rights organizations that include the Michigan State Conference NAACP, Detroit Branch NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, ACLU of Michigan, the New York law firm of Cravath Swaine and Moore, and the National ACLU.

In its 59-page decision, the court agreed with the coalition stating that Proposal 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution (14th Amendment) by creating a double standard in university admissions that hurts people of color.