CIR asks court to order compliance with race ban

Follows Sixth Circuit decision paving way for immediate compliance

Washington D.C.: CIR moved quickly to force Michigan colleges to immediately comply with a new state constitutional amendment barring the use of race in their current admissions cycle.

The public interest law firm earlier this week filed a new class action lawsuit in the Circuit Court for the County of Washtenaw on behalf of Eric Russell, a current applicant for admissions and financial aid to the University of Michigan and Wayne State Law Schools.

In papers filed today, CIR asked the state court to issue a preliminary injunction immediately enforcing newly enacted Article I, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution, which bars the use of race in any decision relating to admissions or financial aid by Michigan public educational institutions.

CIR’s papers note that during the campaign for Prop. 2, University of Michigan officials had no doubt what Section 26 required. Once Prop. 2 passed, however, university officials suddenly decided they were “uncertain” about the meaning of Section 26 and that they couldn’t implement it without “clarifications” to be provided by the courts.

As CIR notes in its papers, the UM’s shifting statements about what Section 26 requires are part of “a strategic campaign to ‘do whatever it takes’ to resist Section 26’s pellucid meaning.” CIR’s suit in state court seeks a court order that will put an end to these efforts to delay implementation.

CIR President Terence Pell commented, “There is not an individual in Michigan who doesn’t know what Section 26 requires. It’s time for the Governor and the university presidents to stop stonewalling and start implementing. It’s a simple thing to remove race as a factor in admissions — you tell admissions officers to look at everything but race. It’s straightforward and that’s what the law now requires.”

In addition to Russell, the suit seeks to certify a class consisting of Russell and all other similarly situated applicants to Michigan colleges and universities. The suit names as defendants the Regents of the University of Michigan, University President Mary Sue Coleman, and Governor Jennifer Granholm.


CIR’s state court suit follows the December 29 ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lifting a lower federal court order prohibiting enforcement of the amendment through June 30, 2007. Today’s filing asks the state courts to order enforcement of the amendment, as now allowed by the federal appeals court decision.