Breaking: Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Ban In Michigan

Edit: Full text here.

In a 6-2 vote (Justice Kagan recused herself) the Supreme Court voted today to uphold Michigan’s affirmative action ban. Dissenting votes were Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor.  USAToday has coverage, and via NYT:

“A student seeking to have her family’s alumni connections considered in her application to one of Michigan’s esteemed public universities could do one of four things to have the school adopt a legacy-conscious admissions policy: she could lobby the admissions committee, she could petition the leadership of the university, she could seek to influence the school’s governing board, or, as a measure of last resort, she could initiate a statewide campaign to alter the state’s Constitution,” Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote for the majority.

“The same cannot be said,” Judge Cole added, “for a black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy. That student could do only one thing to effect change: she could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution — a lengthy, expensive and arduous process — to repeal the consequences of Proposal 2.”

A dissenting member of the appeals court, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, wrote that the majority had it backward. “A state does not deny equal treatment by mandating it,” he said. The majority opinion, he added, “transforms a potential virtue of affirmative action into a vice.”

“If there is one feature of affirmative action programs that favors their constitutionality,” he said, “it is that they grow out of the democratic process.”

The appeals court’s decision divided along partisan lines. The eight judges in the majority were all nominated by Democratic presidents, and the seven judges in dissent were all nominated by Republican presidents. (Judge Helene N. White, who was in the majority, was initially nominated by President Bill Clinton and was later renominated by President George W. Bush as part of a compromise involving several nominations.)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco,upheld California’s ban on racial preferences in 1997, saying it “would be paradoxical” to rule otherwise. The court reaffirmed that ruling in 2010.




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