U.S. Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban on affirmative action

Kaitlyn Schallhorn
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  • U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-2, upholding Michigan's ban on affirmative action.
  • Justice Elana Kagan abstained from the case.
  • Michigan voters banned affirmative action in 2006.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday morning to uphold Michigan’s controversial ban on affirmative action in public university admissions.

    The court ruled 6-2 with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting. Justice Elana Kagan abstained from the case as she worked on the issue while she was at the Justice Department.

    "The decision by Michigan voters reflects the ongoing national dialogue about such practices."   

    "This case is not about the constitutionality, or the merits, of race-conscious admissions policies in higher education," the opinion states. "Here, the principle that the consideration of race in admissions is permissible when certain conditions are met is not being challenged. 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."

    Michigan voters passed the ballot initiative, Prop 2, in 2006 with 58 percent of voters wishing to amend the state constitution to prohibit colleges from considering race during the admissions process. The ban also refers to state hiring and contracting practices. The court heard oral arguments in October of 2013 and a decision was expected between the end of March and early June.

    Seven other states have similar affirmative action bans: Arizona, California, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Washington.

    Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling does not affect the other 42 states that do not have affirmative action bans and can use racial preference. The ruling strictly pertains to states banning racial profiling as it upheld the constitutionality of the process by which Michigan banned affirmative action. 

    The University of Michigan (U-M) used affirmative action practices in its admissions process prior to Prop 2, but lately minority students have been calling for the practice to be reinstated. Over the past several weeks, Brooke Kimbrough, a high school senior, claimed U-M rejected her application because she is black--despite her ACT score and grade point average falling below the U-M average.

    According to U-M’s Office of the Registrar, Asian students made up 11.3 percent of the student body in 2013, African-American students 4.2 percent, Hispanic students 4.3 percent and white students 57.4 percent.

    Michigan State University had similar demographics in the Fall of 2013 with Asian students accounting for 4 percent of the student body, African-American students 7 percent, Hispanic students 4 percent and white students 69 percent.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @katie0509

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Reporter

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Kaitlyn was a reporter at Red Alert Politics and covered business and restaurants for the Alexandria Times.  

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