LANSING (AP) – The legal battles over Michigan’s new law banning some types of public affirmative action programs has spread to the state court system.

The Center for Individual Rights, in a lawsuit filed this week, asked a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order state universities to enact changes sparked by Proposal 2 immediately.

A Center for Individual Rights official said yesterday that the group will ask for a hearing on the case to be scheduled soon.

CIR represents Eric Russell, an Auburn Hills man seeking admission to the University of Michigan’s law school. The suit names several University of Michigan officials and Gov. Jennifer Granholm as defendants.

Russell gained a legal victory last week when a federal appeals court rejected a deal that would have given the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University more time to comply with some parts of Proposal 2.

The constitutional amendment bans the use of race and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring and contracting. The measure was approved by voters in November and took effect Dec. 23.

A federal judge had given the three universities a six-month extension so they could wrap up their current admissions and financial aid cycles under existing and uniform rules. Granholm and Attorney General Mike Cox signed off on the agreement, part of an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by a pro-affirmative action group called By Any Means Necessary.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that federal law does not warrant such an extension. The appeals court said state courts, not federal courts, would have the jurisdiction to decide whether an extension was warranted.

Cox said yesterday he would intervene in the state case and argue in favor of forcing immediate compliance. He said it has become clear that Michigan’s universities have the capability to obey Proposal 2.

“It is time to move forward and comply with Proposal 2,” Cox said in a statement. “I will move vigorously to defend what the people have overwhelmingly supported.”

Terence Pell, CIR’s president, said state court action was needed because the federal courts have not expressly ordered the universities to immediately comply with Proposal 2.

“The federal courts put everything back to neutral,” Pell said. “No one is ordering anyone to do anything right now.”

On Wednesday, the University of Michigan said it was delaying its admissions decisions until Jan. 10 as it sorts through its options based on recent legal developments in the case.

Proposal 2 is expected to have more effect at the University of Michigan than at any other state university.

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