Michigan Voters Approve Ban on Affirmative Action

Michigan voters have approved by a wide margin a controversial ballot initiative to outlaw racial, gender and ethnicity preferences in public college admissions, government hiring and government contracting. With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, 58 percent of Michigan voters approved the ban and 42 percent opposed it.

The proposal was spearheaded by Jennifer Gratz, who was a plaintiff in the landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action in university admissions. Gratz, who is white, was denied admission to the University of Michigan in 1995. The Court ruled that the stringent race-preference system that the university used when it rejected her from admission was unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court ruled in a separate case involving a less stringent race-preference system that the University of Michigan Law School could use race in admissions to increase diversity.

Ward Connerly, an African American affirmative action opponent who leads the American Civil Rights Institute in California, worked with Gratz in spearheading the initiative. He had also helped win passage of similar anti-preference ballot initiatives in California and Washington.

According to a statement from University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, the school will review its legal options to determine whether the ban is lawful, particularly as it pertains to higher education. She wants the court to allow the University of Michigan to keep using its admission system for now until the question is decided.

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