Panel Analyzes Affirmative Action and the Constitution
Alma College observes Constitution Day with a panel discussion on recent court decisions related to Affirmative Action programs and public university admissions policies.
The discussion takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, in the Swanson Academic Center, Room 113. Admission is free and open to the public.
Panelists will include Eric Restuccia, the Michigan Deputy Solicitor General, and a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been involved in the litigation. Also on the panel will be William Gorton, assistant professor of political science at Alma College.
Alma Observes Constitution Day
“The topic is both timely and controversial,” says Kristin Olbertson, assistant professor of history at Alma College. “The Michigan Attorney General’s office has announced plans to seek a rehearing of the recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to invalidate Michigan’s legislation banning Affirmative Action programs. The case is likely to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The initiative originally came out of Affirmative Action cases that challenged the University of Michigan’s admissions programs. In 2003, the U-M’s undergraduate admissions policy, which awarded points to minorities, was declared unconstitutional, while the U-M Law School admissions policy, which didn’t award points but gave extra consideration for people of color, was upheld.
Many Affirmative Action programs in Michigan higher education were ultimately outlawed with the passage of Proposal 2 — the 2006 ballot referendum that amended the Michigan state constitution to ban preferences based on gender, race, ethnicity, color or national origin. The provision that became part of the Michigan state constitution was then challenged by the ACLU and other parties and was ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in July.
“The future of Affirmative Action programs is in question,” says Olbertson. “Until this summer, they had been illegal since Michigan amended its state constitution in December 2006, but we don’t know if that will stand up in the federal court system.”
Posted: Sat, September 10th, 2011 at 10:53AM