Reverse discrimination is making its way into the high courts as of Thursday.
"(The ban) embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all
about: equal opportunity under the law; entrance to our great universities
must be based upon merit." Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
states regarding the ruling of a federal appeals court that denied Michigan's
6-year-old ban on considering race and gender in college admissions. This
ruling will be appealed by the state to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This 6-year-long battle has been over whether the state's colleges
can use race and gender in its identification as to who can take up the
valuable space in their schools. On the contrary side, the opponents reflect
that this appeal could strike down anti-affirmative-action policies in
other states if the appeal goes to the Supreme Court.
"We think this is a tremendous victory for the tens and hundreds
of thousands of students who fought for affirmative action for decades,"
states Michigan attorney George Washington. Mr. Washington represents
the By Any Means Necessary coalition that sued to overturn the ban.
However the uproar is calmed by the realization that the ruling may take
time to go into effect, if ever. Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette's
office states the court's rulings take effect only when the issue
is made into a mandate, which takes weeks after the ruling, but Schuette
will inform the court that he is making an appeal to the U.S. Supreme
Court, and asks the Michigan courts to hold to the ruling until the Supreme
Court can make their decision.
Leading to the ruling on Thursday, was a three-judge panel from the same
court which made the same ruling concerning the ban last year. Schuette
asked for the full court to consider the case, which resulted in Thursday's
ruling. The ban was passed in 2006 with 58% voting yes, which was added
to the state's constitution. This enacted that publicly funded colleges
can not allow "preferential treatment to any individual or group
based on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."
The judges reasoning for their rulings were based on the fact that "the
existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the Equal
Protection Clause's guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal
access to the tools of political change." stated by Judge R. Guy Cole.
Michigan voters approved the ban after the U.S. Supreme Court could use
race as a factor in choosing students, but race could not be the ultimate
factor in deciding which students to admit.
The leader of the referendum effort was Jennifer Gratz. A white student,
who was put on a waiting light for an undergraduate education to a states
largest university. Jennifer was forced to attend another school, and
became the main plaintiff in this case. Jennifer began a public campaign
to stop racial preferences in college admissions.
Although the ban also prohibits state from considering race and gender
in public hiring and contracting decisions, Thursday's ruling only
deals with college admissions. The Supreme Court is now considering whether
the University of Texas' admissions are aimed at creating campus diversity
are in actuality violating the rights of white applicants. The next step
for Michigan however, is to take the case to the Supreme Court. The case
has two compelling sides dealing with reverse discrimination, and it is
up to the high court to decide who's rights are being violated.