Supreme Court Says States Can Ban Affirmative Action
The Supreme Court upheld a Michigan voter initiative that bans racial preferences in admissions to the state’s universities.
“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in a controlling opinion joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor read an impassioned dissent from the bench. She said the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other applicants to college.
“The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat,” she wrote. “But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the dissent…
The vote in the case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, No. 12-682, was 6-2. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself, presumably because she had worked on the case as United States solicitor general.
The Michigan initiative, known as Proposal 2, was a response to Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 Supreme Court decision that upheld the use of race as one factor among many in law school admissions to ensure educational diversity.