“We will stand up and protect the rights of all Michigan citizens to be treated equally and fairly,” Schuette said at a news conference Thursday.
Michigan voters in 2006 approved Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment that bars the consideration of race, gender and ethnicity. But in a recent 2-1 decision, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law treats minorities unfairly.
“It’s nutty. It turns the 14th Amendment on its head,” said Schuette, referring to a clause in the U.S. Constitution that says states will not deny citizens the equal protection of laws.
He said there’s nothing illegal about a law that prohibits discrimination. A very similar law in California was upheld by a San Francisco-based appeals court.
Schuette will ask the appeals court’s 15 active judges to reopen the case, although it’s rare for the court to set aside the work of one of its three-judge panels.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hope the court rejects Schuette’s request.
“Diverse classrooms promote academic excellence and prepare students for success in an increasingly diverse workforce and global society. This is a settled fact and settled law,” said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP. “Proposal 2 treats students of color unequally in the admissions process and it diminishes the quality of our system of higher education.”
Schuette said he voted for the law in 2006 when he was a state judge. Gov. Rick Snyder, a fellow Republican elected last year, opposed the law but supports the appeal by the attorney general.
“Prop 2 is part of the Michigan Constitution, and the governor has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. It is appropriate for the attorney general to defend the Constitution in this manner,” Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher said.