The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected a ban that currently prohibits Michigan from instituting affirmative action policies in higher education on Thursday by an 8 to 7 vote.
The Court ruled [PDF] that a 2006 referendum approved by Michigan voters that prohibits race or gender from being used as a factor in university admissions violates the 14th Amendment because it places additional burdens on minorities. Judge R. Guy Cole explained in his majority opinion "A black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy ... could do only one thing to effect change: She could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution -- a lengthy, expensive and arduous process -- to repeal the consequences." He continued by explaining the same would not be true of a student trying to change the admissions policy to consider an applicant's alumni connections - he or she simply could circulate petitions and lobby within the university. "The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the Equal Protection Clause's guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change," he concluded. Dissenting judges believed that any preferential treatment for an applicant that was not based on merit challenged the premise of equal opportunity guaranteed by the law.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has already announced plans to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court. He also announced that he will ask the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court to stay its decision pending review of the case by the Supreme Court to prevent the Sixth Circuit Court's decision from taking effect.
Last year, a three-judge panel of the same US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit voted 2 to 1 to strike down the same provision of the Michigan state constitution created by the 2006 referendum. An appeal of this decision resulted in the case appearing before the full Sixth Circuit Court.
The provision of the state constitution in question bans any preferences on the basis of ethnicity, sex, or race, particularly in regards to admissions policies at state universities. Other states, including Arizona, California, Nebraska and Washington, have similar affirmative action bans.
Media Resources: Christian Science Monitor 11/15/12; CNN 11/15/12; Detroit Free Press 11/15/12; New York Times 11/15/12; United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit 11/15/12; Feminist Newswire 7/8/11
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .