(AP) — Facing a deadline this week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has pledged to ask an entire federal appeals court to suspend and re-examine a landmark decision that overturned the state’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions.
But here’s the key issue: Will a majority of the court’s 15 active judges agree to take the case?
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears cases in three-judge panels. It would be rare for the full court to sweep aside the work of one of its panels and start from scratch, but this is not a typical case. It involves a 2006 law approved by 58 percent of Michigan voters and a very contentious issue — the role of race and gender in decisions by public officials.
“This is a fascinating case. It’s a close call,” said Jonathan Adler, who teaches constitutional law at Case Western Reserve University law school in Cleveland.
Robert Sedler, an expert in constitutional law at Wayne State University law school in Detroit, said affirmative action may be “politically hot,” but that’s not a reason for the full court to intervene.
“The reason may be it raises an important constitutional issue,” Sedler said.
On July 1, the appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, struck down Michigan’s Proposal 2, which bans the consideration of race and gender in college admissions and government hiring. Judges R. Guy Cole Jr. and Martha Craig Daughtrey said it put an unconstitutional burden on minorities who would have to launch their own statewide petition drive to try to undo the law.
Proposal 2 supporters could have chosen “less onerous avenues to effect political change,” the judges said.
Schuette, a Republican, has said he’ll meet a Friday deadline to ask the full 6th Circuit to review the decision.
“Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit,” he said earlier this month.