The US Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a constitutional amendment in Michigan banning the use of race-based preferences in the admissions decisions of public universities.
Voting 6 to 2, the high court said Michigan’s Proposal 2 did not violate the US Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause as charged by various groups favoring the use of affirmative action in college admissions.
The groups had challenged the affirmative action ban on grounds that it tilted the political playing field in Michigan in a way that made it significantly more difficult for racial minorities to enact the type of race-based college admissions policies that they favor.
A federal judge rejected the argument, but the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals embraced it by a vote of 8 to 7, striking down the Michigan ban.
In reversing that decision, the high court said the appeals court judges were wrong to “disempower” the 58 percent of Michigan voters who supported the constitutional amendment.
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/0422/US-Supreme-Court-Michigan-ban-on-affirmative-action-OK“There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this Court’s precedents for the Judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s main opinion.
“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,” Justice Kennedy wrote in an 18-page opinion.
He added: “It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a 58-page dissent in which she lectured and belittled the majority justices as being “out of touch with reality.”
“My colleagues are of the view that we should leave race out of the picture entirely and let the voters sort it out,” she said.
“In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination,” she said in a dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable,” Justice Sotomayor said.
“The Constitution does not protect minorities from political defeat. But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities,” she said.
Sotomayor said the judiciary has a special role to play to safeguard minority rights that might be diminished or extinguished by majoritarian power.
“The Court abdicates that role, permitting the majority to use its numerical advantage to change the rules mid-contest and forever stack the deck against racial minorities in Michigan,” she said.
I can see both sides of the argument, the best students should be accepted to school. But how do you also give minorities a better chance.