Prominent affirmative action opponent running for University of Michigan regent

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Robby Soave Reporter
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Prominent anti-affirmative action activist Jennifer Gratz — who sued the University of Michigan for rejecting her under its race-based admissions system and won her case at the Supreme Court — may seek a leadership role at UM.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, Gratz said that she is considering running for a seat on the UM Board of Regents.

“I have been strongly encouraged to run for UM Regent and it is something that I’m considering,” she wrote in an email to TheDCNF. “It would bring the issue that I am most passionate about full circle.”

That issue is race preferences in university admissions — something that Gratz has spent the last two decades attempting to end.

After being denied admission to UM in 1995, she sued the university for racial discrimination. The university used a points system to determine admittance, and minority applicants received more points than applicants with perfect standardized test scores.

The Supreme Court sided with Gratz in the landmark 2003 affirmative action case, Gratz v. Bollinger, and struck down the points system. UM was still permitted to consider race as one of many factors toward admission, however.

After winning her case, Gratz became a national leader of the movement against racial preferences, and spearheaded successful efforts to ban affirmative action via ballot initiatives in several state, including Michigan.

Last year, however, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Michigan’s ban, which was approved by voters in 2006. The court ruled that the voters’ decision to end race-based preferences was a violation of the equal protection amendment — a paradoxical decision, in Gratz’s view.

“It was troublesome to hear organizations like the ACLU and BAMN argue — and judges seemingly agree with them — that the governing boards of Michigan universities have supreme authority and that the people nor the constitution can trump these boards,” wrote Gratz.

Michigan’s attorney general appealed the decision, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear it in the fall. (RELATED: Ten years later, Supreme Court will revisit affirmative action in Michigan)

But getting the justices to end affirmative action in Michigan — 10 years after they permitted but narrowed it — is just one way for Gratz to win. Another is to reform the policies she opposes from within the university itself, as a regent.

Two of the current regents, Julia Darlowe and Katherine White, both Democrats, will be up for reelection in 2014. The regency is a statewide election, and the top two vote recipients win, regardless of party. Gratz is a Republican.

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