Tuesday, March 26, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court to Revisit Ban on Affirmative Action in Michigan

Breaking News! The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will revisit the ban on affirmative action in Michigan. The Court will determine whether whether state voter ballot initiatives that barred affirmative action in state colleges and universities, such as Proposition 209 in California and Proposal 2 in Michigan, violate the rights of minority groups to fully participate in the political process. Court proceedings will begin this fall.

From Inside HigherEd:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear a second case involving affirmative action in higher education -- even before it has issued a ruling on the other case that it has considered this term. The justices agreed to consider whether Michigan voters in 2006 had the legal right to bar the state's public colleges and universities from considering race or ethnicity in admissions. Should the Supreme Court invalidate that vote, bans on the consideration of race by public colleges in other states -- most notably in California -- could also be thrown out.
From University of Michigan:
The nation's high court will hear an appeal filed by state Attorney General Bill Schuette after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposal 2, the ballot initiative approved by voters in 2006, was unconstitutional. The court said it would take up the case, known as Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, in the term that begins in October. Proposal 2 amended the Michigan Constitution by adding a provision prohibiting discrimination and preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity, sex, or national origin in public education, public employment, and public contracting. U-M remains in full compliance with Proposal 2. The 6th Circuit concluded that Proposal 2 violated the federal Equal Protection Clause by making it more difficult for minority groups to participate fully and equally in the state's political processes, particularly with respect to the ability to seek changes in university admissions policies. 
Initially, I was shocked by this announcement because the U.S. Supreme Court will therefore hear two consecutive cases on affirmative action (Fisher v. University of Texas) and now state voter initiatives that ban affirmative action. Research has shown that these bans have negatively impacted the enrollment of African American students in flagship state universities. Race-neutral approaches (percentage plans, socioeconomic review, etc.) are not a viable substitute to race. Once these bans are enacted, it is nearly impossible for minority civil rights groups to gather the funding and resources to overturn these laws. This is an unprecedented move, but I have hope that the Court will make the right decision(s).

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