Supreme Court and Affirmative-Action Ban

Supreme Court Weighs Michigan Affirmative-Action Ban

Conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared skeptical on Tuesday that Michigan’s voter-enacted prohibition on affirmative action in higher education violates the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection principles.

“It’s not a racial classification; it’s a prohibition of racial classifications,” Justice Antonin Scalia said of the 2006 ballot measure known as Proposal 2 during arguments in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (Case No. 12-682).

The measure also barred race preferences in K-12 public schools and other areas of state government, but the case before the high court concerns the measure’s prohibition of race preferences in college admissions. (Still, the court’s decision could have wide implications, as I reported here.)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., another of the court’s conservatives on race issues, wondered why the state’s voters couldn’t conclude that “race is a lightning rod” and that they would like to try race-neutral alternatives in admissions without running afoul of the equal-protection clause.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled last year that the ballot measure violated the “political restructuring” doctrine, meaning it made it more difficult for racial minorities to reverse the measure. That was a significant change in the ordinary political process and a racial classification that did not survive strict scrutiny, or the highest level justification needed to uphold a government policy, the court ruled.

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One Response to “Supreme Court and Affirmative-Action Ban”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Affirmative Action is a quota system, isn’t it? How is that equal protection under the law?

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