The University asked a federal court yesterday to delay the implementation of Proposal 2.
If the motion is successful, the University will avoid being forced to stop considering race in admissions on Dec. 23 – in the middle of the admissions cycle. If the stay is not granted, applications received after that date will be judged by different standards than those received before.
The University of Michigan filed the request with Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
The motion was filed in response to a Nov. 8 lawsuit by the radical pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary. BAMN’s suit claims that the proposal violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that public institutions in Michigan must continue to grant preferences based on race. The three universities were named as defendants, along with Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the trustees of any other public educational institute in Michigan.
Because the University’s lawsuit is a response to the BAMN suit, its legal bills will be covered by its legal insurance plan.
The stay request won’t go unchallenged, though.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, a Sacramento-based law firm that opposes affirmative action, is likely to file a response arguing against granting the stay.
“I don’t think it’s justified in the least,” said Alan Foutz, an attorney for the foundation.
“The universities that are moving for this stay in enforcement have known about Proposal 2 for a long time.”
Foutz said the universities have had plenty of time between the passage of Proposal 2 and its implementation to retrain staff and change their admissions and financial aid policies to comply with the amendment.
The Pacific Legal Foundation is also combing through Michigan law and government policies to determine if they contain any language that violates Proposal 2, Foutz said. If the foundation finds a provision it suspects violates the amendment that isn’t repealed after Proposal 2 takes effect on Dec. 23, the foundation plans to sue the state.
In the stay request, the universities argue not only that did they not have enough time to change their policies, but also that doing so would be unfair to applicants.
University President Mary Sue Coleman highlighted those concerns in an interview yesterday.
“This will permit us to get through our current cycle and be fair to all of our applicants,” she said. “It’s not easy for us just to flip the switch and kind of change the process, and we didn’t think that would be the right thing to do for the number of young people applying to the University of Michigan.”
University Provost Teresa Sullivan laid out the complexities of the University’s admissions and financial aid processes in an affidavit that accompanied the motion for the stay. She said the Office of Undergraduate Admissions expects to have received about 20,000 applications by the time the amendment is slated to take effect. The office also told potential applicants about the criteria for admissions beginning in August.
“Students have relied on the information they were given months ago about this year’s admissions process,” Coleman said in a written statement
The stay request also argues that the meaning of Proposal 2 is unclear. On Nov. 9, Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order asking the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to determine what the amendment means and which state laws and programs should be repealed in order to comply with it. The commission is expected to issue a report in February.
University of Michigan General Counsel Marvin Krislov said that’s one more reason the court should grant the stay.
“There is a lot of uncertainty over what the law implies,” he said. “We hope that will be lessened by the governor’s executive order.”
—Anne Vandermey contributed to this report.