SCOTUS upholds voter-passed law prohibiting affirmative action in university admissions

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Good morning:

The United States Supreme Court issued an opinion today by a vote of 6-2 upholding a voter-passed constitutional provision in Michigan that prohibits colleges and universities from using affirmative action policies in deciding whether to admit applicants to enroll in their academic degree programs.

The decision reverses an en banc decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. An en banc decision is a decision by the entire circuit court, as opposed to a three-judge panel.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. He held that the sixth circuit did not have the authority to overrule Michigan voters. He said,

This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it.

Justices Roberts and Alito joined his opinion.

Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas, concurred in the result, but added that parties who claim that a law denies equal protection must show that the law has a discriminatory purpose in order to prevail. He concluded that the constitutional provision was legitimate since it did not have discriminatory purpose.

I rarely agree with Justice Scalia and this is yet another decision with which I disagree. Affirmative action laws were enacted to create opportunities for minorities to acquire the necessary education, skills and experience to overcome discrimination and compete for employment on equal footing with others.

I do not see how he can say with a straight face that the constitutional provision passed by voters prohibiting affirmative action in admissions to state colleges and universities has no discriminatory purpose.

Affirmative action programs were enacted to give meaning to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Racism is real and only a racist or racist enabler would deny it. Racist voters, who would deny minorities the opportunities for improvement accorded by affirmative action laws because of the color of their skin, establish the discriminatory purpose.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She read her decision aloud in court this morning noting that the majority decision is a blow to “historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights.” She warned that, “Without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups.”

Justice Stephen Breyer, who usually votes with justices Sotomayor, Ginsberg, and Kagan, deserted them this time. He did not see a problem with allowing voters to decide whether to adopt race-based admissions policies.

Justice Kagan recused herself from participating in this case.

The name of the case is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, U.S. Supreme Court, 12-682.

Read the 6th circuit’s en banc decision that struck down the voter passed constitutional provision that the SCOTUS shamelessly upheld today.

If you appreciate what we do and you have not already made a donation this month, please take this opportunity to do so.

Fred

6 Responses to SCOTUS upholds voter-passed law prohibiting affirmative action in university admissions

  1. gblock says:

    Given the past use of the laws to discriminate against ;minorities, the use of voter initiatives to abolish affirmative action, on the perceived grounds (whether accurate or not) that “less qualified” minorities are “stealing” seats from potential white students, is a method that runs an inherent risk of reestablishing discriminatory policies.

    • Speaking philosophically, eventually the affirmative action policies were going to have to expire, but now is definitely not the time and majority vote is absolutely not the proper method to end it.

      Racism is increasing, not decreasing, and racists are shameless, loud and proud.

      Permitting them to have any say regarding when affirmative action has achieved its goal and should be phased out is inappropriate.

      The decision should be made by the minority groups that affirmative action was intended to benefit because only they can determine when they have achieved equality of opportunity.

      Shame on the Supreme Court.

  2. MKX says:

    Arguably and logically, legacy admissions are “race based” affirmative action in that they give preference to applicants who are the spawn of those who took advantage of a society wherein segregation, and the advantages that went along with it, were the rule of law.

    Robert’s rather childish logic of one gets rid of racism by not having any racism is a clear sop the “we are a post racial meritocracy” crowd.

    Here is a real meritocracy:

    No child born in the USA is allowed to inherit one cent of their parents money

    All children born in the USA have the right a school that is equal in quality to that used by any other child

    All children born in the USA, while attending school, shall be provided breakfast, lunch and dinner that meets the best nutritional standards for free.

    Standardized tests shall include words and issues that represent all of the diverse cultures that do and have been part and parcel of the great melting pot that is the USA

    A real meritocracy requires a level playing field from the day one is born till the day they die.

    I really get irked by the snide remarks about the work ethic of “those people” made by whiteopians.

    One of the few areas, IMO, that does have a level playing field is professional sports.

    And I notice that “those people”, be they “trailer trash”, “the blacks”, “latinos” etc tend to be overrepresented.

    Rather than admit that they are full of shit, the whiteopian will say they have some sort of special gene.

    Racism dies hard in the USA.

    A clearly intelligent black man who becomes POTUS is an “affirmative action” POTUS. A black athlete who does excel is “gifted”. A white athlete who excels has great “work ethic”

  3. bettykath says:

    The Supreme Court is paving the way for the feudal society. Legacy seats for mostly white students are ok but seat for minorities are not? It’s rare for the voters to protect the rights of minorities and now that the Supreme Court has knocked down provisions of the Voting Rights laws, it will be even fewer minorities who will be able to vote for their rights.

    California has such a no-affirmative action law and they have seen a marked decrease in the admission of minorities.

    It’s more white privilege protecting their own.

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