CIR widens fight against Prop. 2 delay

Asks Sixth Circuit to lift injunction

Washington, D.C.: On Thursday, December 21, CIR filed a motion for an emergency stay pending appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in a legal effort to ensure Michigan’s newly enacted Prop. 2 takes effect for this year’s admissions cycle. CIR is asking the appeals court to lift a December 19 order that delays the application of Prop. 2 to university admissions through June 30, 2007.

In its motion, CIR argues that the district court abused its discretion in enjoining enforcement of Prop. 2 for six months. Among other infirmities, the District Court failed to hear or consider the views of individuals whose interests were most directly affected by the injunction, namely current applicants to Michigan universities.

These individuals, including CIR client Eric Russell, had every reason to believe that Prop. 2 would become effective on December 22, 2006 and that, accordingly, their applications would be judged without regard to race.

Instead the District Court asserted that the interests of these individuals were adequately represented by their “elected officials” — the Governor and the Attorney General, who brokered the agreement.

The District Court did not recognize that the purpose of the initiative process by which Prop. 2 came to be passed was to bypass Michigan’s elected officials precisely because they were not responding to the will of the people.

In addition, on Thursday, CIR filed a petition for Writ of Mandamus with the Sixth Circuit. The Writ provides an alternative legal basis for the Appeals Court to lift the injunction based on the failure of the District Court to identify any federal Constitutional infirmity with Prop. 2 that would authorize a federal court to enter an injunction against it.

The assertions by various parties that Prop. 2 violate the federal Constitution do not provide a lawful basis for suspending Prop. 2 now, absent a finding by the court that there is a “substantial likelihood” that such claims will succeed. The District Court did not consider or decide what the likehood might be that such arguments will be successful, and in fact, many of them have been decisively rejected in the past.

CIR President Terence Pell commented, “it boggles the mind that the federal courts would lend their authority to Michigan officials determined to thwart the lawful authority of Michigan citizens to pass Prop. 2.”

Pell added, “It gives cold comfort to individuals who now are applying to the UM to be told that Prop. 2 won’t take effect until next year solely for reasons of administrative convenience. Michigan universities have known about Prop. 2 for more than a year. There is no reason why it shouldn’t take effect at midnight tonight, as provided by Michigan law.”