Michigan affirmative action redux, it’s different, I promise

This story was reported last week, but the Michigan Daily grabbed a copy of the briefs and included the plaintiffs’ arguments that they should be excluded from Proposal 2, Michigan’s anti-affirmative action statute.

The main plaintiffs in the case are the state of Michigan, University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

In a brief written to the 6th Circuit Court, the universities stated that they wished to be removed from the lawsuit.

“Simply put, the universities do not belong in the case,” the brief reads. “The universities did not draft Proposal 2. They did not pass Proposal 2. They cannot change Proposal 2. They are not executive branch agencies charged with enforcing Proposal 2.”

I’m not a constitutional scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but this seems a lot like arguing with a police officer that you didn’t draft speed limit ordinances, didn’t pass them and can’t change them, so you shouldn’t have to abide by them.

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Constitutional rights for all, including those who can’t afford them

Today is “Constitution Day,” a day that we take note of the 220th anniversary of this remarkable document, along with the rights it provides and responsibilities it imposes.

Civil rights for everyone

Richard McLellan: rights for everyone

Today is also the day that East Lansing attorney Richard McLellan, writing in The Lansing State Journal, has appropriately pointed out a sad truth: when it comes to discharging the constitutional duty to ensure that indigent criminal defendants receive effective assistance of counsel, the state government has failed spectacularly.

McLellan has the credentials to make this indictment. He’s the chair of the Michigan Law Revision Committee, a member of the State Bar’s Public Policy Committee, and a former co-chair of the bar’s Justice Initiatives Committee.

And he’s got the data to make his case. A study of 10 counties’ public defender systems released earlier this year by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association concluded that not one of them was providing constitutionally adequate representation to criminal defendants who couldn’t afford to hire an attorney. In some counties, the picture isn’t pretty at all.

McLellan comments:

NLADA’s extensive report, originally requested by the Legislature, provides the state with an opportunity to both protect the rights of citizens and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently. We currently spend $2 billion a year on prisons. By taking common sense steps to provide residents with an adequate legal defense we can not only keep innocent men and women out of jail, we can avoid wasting millions.

Let us use Constitution Day to commit ourselves and our state to fully embracing both the benefits and the obligations our law provides.

Hear, hear.