DETROIT (AP) – Calling it a “nutty” decision, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he’ll meet a Friday deadline to ask an entire appeals court to overturn a ruling that struck down the state’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions and government hiring.
Schuette, a Republican elected in 2010, said “merit, talent and ability” should determine who gets into college or gets a public job.
“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, opposed the law. The attorney general said he has not discussed the merits of an appeal with the governor.
“He has his job and I have my job,” Schuette told The Associated Press.
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