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New Michigan affirmative action ban targeted in rights group lawsuit

[JURIST] Affirmative action coalition By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) [advocacy website] has filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging the constitutionality of Proposal 2 [text, PDF], the amendment approved [JURIST report] by Michigan voters on Nov. 7 to restrict affirmative action [JURIST news archive] in state public employment, public education and state contracting. Wednesday's lawsuit claims that the amendment violates federal constitutional rights, arguing that equal protection requires some gender and racial groups be treated differently. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website], however, rejected an almost identical argument based on the 1996 passage of Prop 209 [text], which banned state affirmative action in California, the only state besides Washington and Michigan to do so. Nevertheless, legal experts speculate that more lawsuits will follow, especially before Prop 2 becomes effective on Dec. 22. Mary Sue Coleman [academic profile], chancellor of the University of Michigan, called the language of Prop 2 vague and questioned the legality of the amendment. Prop 2 explicitly applies to the University and its race-based admissions policies.

In 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal constitution permits the University of Michigan to consider race as a factor in the admissions process [JURIST symposium], upholding the University law school admissions policy [Grutter opinion text], while rejecting the more rigid undergraduate admissions system as discriminatory [Gratz opinion text]. The Detroit Free Press has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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