U.S. Top Court Examines Higher-Ed Affirmative Action


Washington (AFP) – The U.S. Supreme Court considered whether state referendums can ban race and sex as factors in university admissions.

In 2006, Michigan voted on a measure to disallow so-called affirmative action in college admissions.

The high court heard arguments Tuesday on whether the ban is constitutional, considering the U.S. constitution’s equal protection guarantees.

Outside, on the Supreme Court steps, some 200 mostly minority protesters gathered to defend affirmative action.

Inside the court Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative appointed by former U.S. president George W. Bush, said the point of the constitution’s Equal Protection Clause was specifically designed “to take race off the table.”

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia weighed in similarly.

“We’ve held that the 14th Amendment protects all races,” he said. “You say now that we have to proceed as though its purpose is not to protect whites, only to protect minorities?”

Of the nine justices, progressive Sonia Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent and was appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama, defended affirmative action the most vehemently.

“Affirmative action favors diversity as opposed to discrimination,” she said.

“You can’t take away a tool of diversity, simply because you change plans,” the justice said.

Justice Elena Kagan, a progressive and former solicitor general, has recused herself from the case due to a conflict of interest linked to her previous professional functions.

This means the remaining eight justices — three progressives and five conservatives — will decide on the matter, although their ruling is not expected before next year.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette asked the justices to uphold “Proposition 2,” adopted in Michigan in 2006 but struck down by an appeals court.

The proposition prohibited Michigan’s public universities, colleges, and school districts from “discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment for any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

But a coalition of groups backing affirmative action along with 17 former students argued the reform violates the U.S. Constitution — specifically its provision on equal rights.

The Michigan case comes on the heels of a high-court decision just over three months ago concerning affirmative action at the University of Texas.

In that case, the justices elected not to rule on the constitutionality of using race and ethnicity in admission, instructing a lower court to take another look at the matter.

The decision left unchanged the principle of affirmative action, an enduring legacy of the 1960s civil rights movement originally meant to give African-Americans a leg up in applying for jobs and education to counter decades of racism.

Brian Soucek, acting professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law, said repercussions from the court’s upcoming decision will be felt well beyond Michigan’s universities.

Apart from Michigan, seven other states — California, Arizona Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington state — have banned affirmative action.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Fox News Deceives Viewers About Its Own Reporter's Question To Biden (VIDEO)

Lucas Tomlinson

On the November 26 edition of Fox News Sunday, Fox News correspondent Lucas Tomlinson declared, “The oldest president in U.S. history also continues to face questions about his age, even here in Nantucket,” followed by video of President Joe Biden reacting to a yelled question — “Mr. President, are you too old to be running for reelection?” — which was clearly Tomlinson’s own voice. In reporting the story to his Fox audience, however, Tomlinson did not make it clear that he was the one who asked the question.

Keep reading...Show less
Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Many liberal and progressive pundits have been predicting a "brain drain" from red states — skillful, college-educated doctors, university professors and teachers leaving because of oppressive MAGA policies. OB-GYNs are worried about draconian anti-abortion laws; teachers and librarians are under attack from the far-right Moms for Liberty.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}