The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions Tuesday morning, undermining efforts at major institutions in the state to increase diversity. The ban, also known as Proposal 2, was passed in 2006 by Michigan voters which makes it illegal for state schools to use race in the admissions and hiring process.
The Supreme Court justices ruled 6-2, which would support the will of voters, adding that a lower federal court was incorrect in saying the Proposal 2 ban was discriminatory. Michigan is now joined by California and Washington as states that have banned affirmative action in education. There are similar laws in a handful of other states that blocks race from being a factor in admissions.
A detailed report from Michigan publication MLive.com revealed that the ruling could disrupt the University of Michigan’s plans for diversifying its student body. Black students just make up 4.6 percent of undergraduates in 2014, a big drop from previous years where it was high as 8.9 percent in 1995 and 7 percent in 2006.
More from MLive.com:
Fifty-eight percent of Michigan voters in 2006 passed Proposal 2, a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution and made it illegal for state entities to consider race in admissions and hiring. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the only way left to nullify Proposal 2 is to mount a long, expensive and uncertain campaign to overturn it.
By upholding Proposal 2, the high court bookends an era of contended affirmative action practices in Michigan, an epoch that began in 1996 when two students filed separate lawsuits against U-M questioning affirmative action practices in admissions.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing the minority opinion. Justice Kennedy wrote, “Deliberative debate on sensitive issues such as racial preferences all too often may shade into rancor. But that does not justify removing certain court-determined issues from the voters’ reach.”
Sotomayor read her opinion aloud Tuesday saying, “But without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups. [Justices] ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the only other judge to side with Justice Sotomayor.
Brooke Kimbrough, a 17-year-old high school senior from Detroit, led a campaign against the University of Michigan backed by the By Any Means Necessary group which opposed the Proposal 2. The school rejected Kimbrough’s college application although she carried a 3.6 grade average and scored well on her ACT test. The school contends her scores were too low, but Kimbrough intends to rally other rejected students of color in her impassioned attempts to be accepted by the university.
Photo: Jarek Tuszynski/Wikipedia Commons