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  • 19

    By No Means
    Race; Posted on: 2008-04-07 18:19:14 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Terry Pell gives the first public analysis of the recent court decision ending (for now) the legal challenges to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

    by Terry Pell

    Some means are by no means necessary.

    So Federal District Court Judge David Lawson decided last month about the efforts of a Michigan advocacy group that calls itself the “Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary” or, more simply, “BAMN.”

    In a sweeping opinion, Lawson rejected every one of the legal arguments that BAMN and other opponents were hoping to use to strike down Michigan’s new amendment barring the use of racial preferences. Lawson’s decision takes the steam out of the multiple legal challenges that have dogged the new amendment almost from the day it passed in November, 2006.

    The legal outcome was not as surprising as Lawson’s timing. From the beginning, Lawson seemed eager to see BAMN’s case proceed. He even issued an extraordinary preliminary injunction forbidding enforcement of the new amendment against three Michigan universities while the case got underway. Even after a panel of Sixth Circuit judges issued a stinging rebuke of this misuse of federal judicial authority, Lawson continued to find new judicial limbs on which to keep the suit perched.

    Lawson allowed the parties to gear up for a major trial that would have focused on the effects of the new amendment on minority enrollment. Lawson possibly thought that a long period of pre-trial discovery followed by a sensational trial might slow down the new amendment or turn up a new legal basis for striking it down. And a public airing of problems with the new amendment might help opponents of similar initiatives planned for five other states.

    But then suddenly Lawson pulled the plug on all this with an opinion in March that, whatever else it did, certainly ended the prospect of further discovery and a trial.

    Lawson’s about-face was no accident. Pre-trial discovery was turning up evidence that the extensive use of racial preferences at Michigan universities was directly causing racial disparities in grades, majors, graduation and professional examination results. Far from helping the case for racial preferences, pre-trial discovery was undermining it.

    News Source: nas.org


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