‘Future of affirmative action’ at stake in Michigan case

October 15, 2013

Affirmative action proponents go to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to argue that a ban on discrimination can itself be discriminatory.

The justices are slated to hear oral arguments in a case out of Michigan, where voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting racial preferences at public colleges and universities.

But a federal appeals court ruled that enshrining that ban in the state constitution violated the federal Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause by elevating the issue beyond the normal legislative process.

Those who support preferences say writing a ban into state constitutions means treating them differently than any other group, such as alumni or students from a specific geographic region.
But opponents say it would be bizarre if a color-blind policy could be struck down because it was discriminatory.

“What’s at stake is probably the future of affirmative action in the United States,” said Ward Connerly one of the authors of the Michigan proposal, which passed with 58 percent of the vote and spawned similar efforts in other states.

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