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Chase Cantrell, et. al. v. Jennifer Granholm

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Lawyers who led fight before the U.S. Supreme Court for abolition of segregation in public schools

Chase Cantrell, et. al. v. Jennifer Granholm


Case Overview:

 On Tuesday, November 7, 2006, citizen of Michigan voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the state from “discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, color, or national origin in the operation of public contracting, public education, and public employment” ( or what has been commonly referred to as Proposal 2. This decision greatly impacted the affirmative action awards granted to minority, including women, students who were admitted to the University. There have been many cases on affirmative action and the use of race for admission decisions. From 1978 with University of California v. Bakke where the ruling concluded that race may be used to achieve diversity in higher education and with the most prominent cases of Gratz v. Bollinger, where Graz won her lawsuit because the Supreme Court concluded that it was unconstitutional for the college admission process to award an applicant a set number of points solely because the applicant wasn’t white ( However, Barbara Grutter was defeated in Grutter v. Bollinger because the University of Michigan proved that the admissions process followed the University of California v. Bakke case.  Proposal 2 has sparked a wave of controversial and litigious responses. The issue of the Cantrell v. Granholm case of 2008 is whether Proposal 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs argue that the Proposal definitely unconstitutional and violates the Fourteenth Amendment because it uses the racial nature of an issue to define the governmental decision making structure, and imposes substantial and unique burdens on racial minorities as set forth in Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1, 1982. (Cantrell v. Granholm, 2008). Document 220 presents the issue as to “Whether the Court” should deny Defendant’s motions to dismiss and/or for summary judgment in their favor and enter summary judgment that Michigan Constitution Article I (Proposal 2) is unconstitutional” (Cantrell v. Granholm, 2008). The case will be heard by Judge David Lawson in Michigan’s Federal District Court.


Key Holdings: Cantrell, et. al. submitted a case citing several arguments against the defendants, specifically Jennifer Granholm’s office as Governor and the state’s Attorny General, to dismiss and/or for summary judgment. First, Cantrell asserts that Proposal 2 poses a direct “constitutional injury” because of the burden to secure race-conscious admissions policies and the inability to enact the right to equality in the political process. Second, the case submits that Proposal 2 imposes a substantial and unique political burden on individuals seeking to restore race-conscious admissions policies at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University, by making it practically impossible to secure those policies (Cantrell v. Granholm, 2008).


Impact on Higher Education: Cantrell v. Granholm has been called “the most important civil rights case before any court in the nation” ( The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, concludes that the ban on affirmative action programs will cut off the pathway towards higher education for many students of color ( However, understanding the impact on the minority access to higher education, the impact on higher education institutions must also be considered. The Michigan proposal has influenced five other institutions in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Missouri, to include language to “not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin (
An Argument Against Affirmative Action

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