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Supreme Court upholds Michigan's affirmative action ban

The Supreme Court made a ruling regarding affirmative action on Tuesday, according to a CBS News report on Tuesday. The high court ruled that Michigan voters had a right to ban affirmative action in their state through a ballot initiative. The Supreme Court’s affirmative action-related decision was 6-to-2.

The United States Supreme Court Justices

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy led the way of the ruling opinion by stating that the case was not about the constitutionality or the merits of race-conscious admissions policies in higher education. He stated, of the court’s majority-opinion, that the case was about whether – and in what manner – voters in the United States may choose to prohibit the consideration of racial preferences in government decisions. Specifically, he continued, the governmental decisions are in respect to school admissions.

The decision comes in light of the case titled “Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, 12-682,” according to a Yahoo! News report. In the court case, the judges reviewed a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative. In the past occurrences, there was an amendment of Michigan’s state constitution to ban the consideration of race or sex in public education, government contracting, as well as public employment. Two years ago, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals asserted that the Michigan initiative violated the United States Constitution’s equal protection clause.

Due to it being in the form of a constitutional amendment, the appeals court believed the new rule reordered the political process in a way that is burdensome to racial minorities. However, Judge Kennedy aptly argued that the court of appeals’ logic was skewed. Kennedy asserts that the decision made by the appeals’ court was not consistent with the underlying premises of a responsible, functioning democracy. Constitutionalists are praising his decision.

Kennedy went on to write within his formal opinion on the case that one of the premises is that a democracy has the capacity as well as the duty to learn from its past mistakes. He claims that a democracy has to discover and confront persisting biases, respectfully rising above flaws and injustices. In summation, Kennedy wrote that it is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds.

In the majority decision in the affirmative action case, Judge Kennedy was joined with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, and Antonin Scalia. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was vehemently opposed to the results of the case and was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Elena Kagan was not involved with this case, likely because she had previously worked on the case when she served in the Justice Department.

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