US Court of Appeals rules on MI voters' decision - WNEM TV 5

US Court of Appeals rules MI voters' decision on affirmative action 'unconstitutional'

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

As chair of the Saginaw Promise Zone, former Saginaw Mayor Joyce Seals has one mission: to ensure any student who wants to go to college, goes to college.

"We're taking our students to the next level. Our kids won't have any problems going in at whatever standards," she said.

But should race or gender be considered as part of those standards when it comes to college admissions? Seals says yes.

"I think that if you base it on a merit and if race is one of those dots on a whole linear line of criteria for admissions, I think it's only fair," Seals added.

Thursday, a federal appeals court said that Michigan's ban on affirmative action in university admissions, which voters passed in 2006, wasn't fair. In fact, the court ruled that the ballot initiative, known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, was unconstitutional.

"I think it's a fantastic ruling," Seals said.

Thursday's decision was a victory for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

"It means that the doors of the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State can again be open to black and Latino and Native American students," said George Washington, who represented the group during the case.

He says the ban reduced admissions to U of M by a third, by as much as 45 percent at Michigan State and 50 percent at Wayne State.

"Everybody else can go get a special admission program but the very students who need it most, black and Latino students, and this is a victory for equality and those students," Washington added.

At least one Michigan high-ranking official was not happy with the appeals court ruling. State Attorney General Bill Schuette released a statement Thursday, vowing to appeal the affirmative action decision.

"The MCRI, or Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law. Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit. We are prepared to take the fight for equality, fairness and the rule of law to the U.S. Supreme Court," Schuette said in a statement.

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