A deeply divided federal appeals court has overturned Michigan’s voter-approved ban on race-conscious college admissions, throwing out an amendment to the state’s Constitution that barred public colleges from operating programs that give preferences based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or gender. The Associated Press reports that the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handed down a narrow 8-to-7 decision on Thursday. Voters overwhelmingly approved the ban in 2006, when they passed a ballot measure called Proposal 2, also known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. Writing for the majority, Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. said that the ban presented an extraordinary burden to its opponents, who would have to conduct their own long campaign to protect affirmative action at the polls. That burden undermines opponents’ 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, Judge Cole wrote. The court did not address the section of the amendment concerning government hiring. A three-judge panel of the same court had also overturned the ban last year, but the full court agreed to consider the issue again after a plea from the state’s attorney general.
The Chronicle will have an in-depth story about this decision later.