Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban on Affirmative Action in College Admissions

The case isn't about race, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, but about whether the state's voters can choose to prohibit consideration of racial preferences.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action in college admissions.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action in college admissions.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions, delivering in its divided opinion a blow to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where dwindling minority enrollment has come under fire.

The ruling overturns a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, The Detroit Free Press reports.

"The plurality opinion stresses that the case is not about the constitutionality or the merits of race conscious admission policies in higher education. Rather, the question concerns whether and in what manner voters in a state may chose to prohibit consideration of such racial preferences," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

"Rather, the question concerns whether, and in what manner, voters in the states may choose to prohibit the consideration of such racial preferences. Where states have prohibited race-conscious admissions policies, universities have responded by experimenting with a wide variety of alternative approaches. ... The decision by Michigan voters reflects the ongoing national dialogue about such practices."

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and admissions director Ted Spencer told MLive/The Ann Arbor News that without affirmative action, the university can’t achieve a fully diverse student body.

Just 4.6 percent of undergraduates this year are black, compared with 8.9 pecent a decade ago and 7 percent in 2006.

Achieving diversity is “impossible to achieve diversity on a regular basis” without affirmative action, a leveling tool used in employment and other areas to achieve diversity, Spencer told the Ann Arbor newspaper.

At issue in the decision was Proposal 2, approved by 58 percent of Michigan voters in 2006. It amended the state Constitution and made it illegal for state entities to consider race in admissions and hiring.

The opposition group By Any Means Necessary mounted a campaign against the admissions portion of the ban mounted an opposition campaign shortly after voters approved it. They argued it violated the equal protection provision in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

A panel of three 6th Circuit judges found the ban unconstitutional, an opinion upheld in an 8-7 opinion by the full slate of judges in November 2012. That opinion conflicted with a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a similar voter-backed ban on affirmative action in California, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the Michigan case to settle the conflicting opinions.

Tell Us: Do you agree with the Supreme Court ruling? Why or why not?
Racer Boy April 23, 2014 at 02:56 PM
It's how a democracy works. The Supreme Court has clarified what rights the State's have. If U of M wants more diversity, just lsimply ower their overall entrance standards. Maybe a 2.3 GPA would satisfy those that think personal achievement shouldn't matter. Then you would end up with a school like Wayne State University that showcases their diversity with a 4-year graduation rate of 9.7%....that's right....9.7%!!! That's what artificially achieved diversity gets you.
Love All April 23, 2014 at 03:10 PM
Liars figure,, and figures lie. You can make statistics say whatever you want them to say. The only variable is which side is using the stats. It is well known that Universities like UM do not admit every single freshman that applies. Only a biased, myopic view of race would lead one to believe that not using affirmative action will now see every last white freshman that applies, accepted. Seriously people,,, you cannot legislate or vote in discrimination under the guise of "states rights". The ban on gay marriage in Michigan WILL be overturned.
cookiepro2 April 23, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Regardless of affirmative action, U of M will do what it needs to do to maintain its academic ranking. It's not going to endanger its brand name, so to speak. Its funding depends on its reputation and its sizable materially successful alumni base. I have no beef with the recruited star athletes either, they are excellent at what they do, and bring in tremendous revenue and fans, think of it as a different kind of intelligence, no less to be respected. Graduate school where U of M excels, IMO, will never be accused of letting anyone in just because of race...there are the GRE, LSAT, MCAT , GMAT tests, very competitive; you've got to have the right stuff.
Robert April 24, 2014 at 01:24 PM
So according to Greg, and Love All we should be forced to discriminate? That's exactly what affirmative action is. It "forces" people within organizations to openly discriminate. Bug I guess because it's against white people Greg and Love aren't concerned because of course white people are the root if all evil and should be punished. And by the way Love, the gay marriage debate is on a different forum. Go find that one to tout your perversions.


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