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Monday, October 24, 2016

By David Jesse, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a ban on using race in admissions to Michigan’s public universities. The court was divided on the case, which overturns a U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

The opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, says the case is not about race admissions policies but about whether voters in a state can choose to prohibit consideration of racial preferences.

“The plurality opinion stresses that the case is not about the constitutionality or the merits of race-conscious admission policies in higher education. Rather, the question concerns whether, and in what manner, voters in a state may choose to prohibit consideration of such racial preferences,” Kennedy wrote. “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.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Clarence Thomas all filed concurring opinions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case.

The case centers on Proposal 2, called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

The appeals court said the state ban on affirmative action violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by making it more difficult for a minority student to get a university to adopt a race-conscious admissions policy than for a white student to get a university to adopt an admissions policy that considers family and alumni connections.

The ballot initiative was pushed by Jennifer Gratz, who was denied admission to the University of Michigan and sued, and by Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent who backed a similar voter initiative in that state.

Michigan voters approved the ban, 58 percent to 42 percent.

More than 10 years ago, U-M was involved in a landmark Supreme Court ruling governing race and universities in two companion lawsuits, one filed by Gratz and others over undergraduate admissions policies. The high court upheld the U-M Law School’s use of race as a consideration in admissions, as long as there were no quotas attached, but threw out the undergraduate admissions system that awarded extra points to African-American, Hispanic and American Indian students.

It was considered a win for U-M, despite the ruling on undergraduate admissions.

Proposal 2 erased U-M’s court victory by banning the state’s universities and other public institutions from considering an applicant’s minority status or gender in their admissions or hiring processes.

“The ruling has no effect on our policies, which already are consistent with Proposal 2 of 2006,” said U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. “We remain committed to the goal of a diverse, academically excellent, student body, and will continue to seek to achieve that goal in ways that comply with the law.”

Gratz, in a press release, cheered Tuesday’s ruling.

“Much progress has been made over the past 15 years in challenging discriminatory policies based on race preferences and moving toward colorblind government,” Gratz stated. “Today’s ruling preserves this foundation and is a clear signal that states are moving in the right direction when they do away with policies that treat people differently based on race, gender, ethnicity or skin color.”

George Washington, who argued the case for the group By Any Means Necessary, criticized the ruling. “This is a terrible ruling. It gives the white majority the right to deny black and Latinos the right to higher education. It is today’s Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. We will fight it by every means possible. The Supreme Court has made it clear they want to repeal the gains of the Civil Rights movement.”

AFP Photo/Karen Bleier

  • Sand_Cat

    Chalk up another one for Kennedy.

  • whodatbob

    The civil rights movement was about equal rights and treatment for all citizens. So, Supreme Court rules no more special treatment for minorities but all are to be treated the same. Seems like a win for equality.

    • elw

      But the big question is are they truly treated the same? I think not.

      • whodatbob

        You bought the story line that equal is not equal, but preferential treatment to the less prepared is equal. The Civil Rights movement was to stop preferential treatment of the majority, racial equality, not to set up a system of preferential treatment of minorities. In this case if all applicants are graded the same, no extra points added for minorities, preferential treatment is not involved.

        • elw

          You will have to prove to me that that Christian, White people do not get preferential treatment when applying for college before I buy that. Research still shows that people of color are not treated equally.

          • whodatbob

            Can not prove nonfactual hearsay is either fact or fiction. You are correct people of color are not always treated equal.

            In this situation to meet Fed mandated quotas people of color are given preferential treatment.

            We can’t fix stupid! That minority portion of our major White society who can not accept equality of all fall into the can’t fix category.

            Punishing all in the majority for the sins of some is as egregious as eliminating food stamps because some recipients cheat.

          • elw

            You cannot prove hearsay, yet you continue to claim that somehow Whites are being punished by laws that require that colleges and universities leave space for people of color. How are they getting punished when they still find it easier to get into the most desirable universities than people of color and still manage to maintain the highest percentage of college students?

  • elw

    One giant step backward for mankind and the United States. Allowing State laws to overrule Federal laws is asking for chaos. We are either a Country or we are not. We either want our citizens to be able to freely move to one state to other without fear of being suddenly treated differently. Just another poorly thought out decision by active judges put in place by a Conservative Presidents. Your vote counts.

  • ps0rjl

    What would you expect from our current Supreme Court. These justices will bend and contort the law any way they can to rule in a conservative way. The day whites can as a group convince anyone that they are discriminated against will be a cold day in hell. I have no doubt they will return us to the days of white only, robber barons, and congress to the higher bidder. The only jobs left for the lower and middle class will be minimum wage jobs and the military to fight wars for the ruling class and corporations to profit from

  • tdm3624

    “This is a terrible ruling. It gives the white majority the right to deny black and Latinos the right to higher education.”

    No it doesn’t. It gives the population of a state the right to decide whether to allow universities to use race/gender for admissions purposes.

  • paulyz

    Reverse discrimination has ALWAYS been wrong. Using “Affirmative-Action” in this day and age of civil-rights and laws has gone well past it’s need, and is used for favors and increasing minority quotas without good reason. To say minorities can’t get ahead is telling them they are inferior, and tends to cause an expectation of results not based on qualifications, but expectations.

  • charles king

    This is no big deal just another eye opener for the People to come together and find out What? the hell is going on in America. Do some critical thinking about How? your country is being governing and by Whom? The states or your federal government. MONIES are causing a lot of the problems by buying your Representors but that do not mean a thing because the Voter is still in the drivers seat. The President Obama in most of his speeches he talks about Critical Thinking and Not returning those representives Who? are doing their job in the Senate and Congress. Vote their Asses out, we do not need those kinds of people. Capitalistic Pigs, Plutocracts, Democracts and Republicans Do Nothingiers etc., and anyother Who? shows anti-American, anti-Democracy, anti=Obamacare, anti-Social Security, anti-FoodStamps, anti-education for the masses this is America, All-Americans are included in this great nation of ours and God is on the People side, Of, By, and For the People. Thank You are the magic words with me. I Love Ya All. Mr. C. E. KING