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US Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action

UCLA, Royce Hall
UCLA, Royce Hall

On April 22, 2014, the United States Supreme Court in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action rejected, by a 6-2 vote, a challenge to a Michigan law, approved by that state's voters, that bans affirmative action in university admissions. Justice Kennedy, in the majority opinion, stated that the case was not about "how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved" but rather "about who may resolve it," noting there was no authority in the US Constitution or prior Supreme Court precedent for the High Court to set aside Michigan's decision on the issue. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented and Justice Kagan did not participate in the case as she worked on it before she was appointed to the Supreme Court.

In California, Proposition 209 has, since 1996, forbidden consideration of race and gender in university admissions. Prior legal challenges to Proposition 209 have failed. While critics of the decision claim it will damage efforts to diversify student bodies, supporters of the ban note that the approach is race-neutral and does not target any particular groups.