The Supreme Court ruled that a Michigan initiative that bans racial preferences in college admissions is constitutional, overturning a lower court decision.
The measure is expected to appear on this year’s ballot.
In a 6-2 decision Tuesday, the justices said the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to set aside the voter-approved ban as discriminatory.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision in the case Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer authored concurring opinions. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, and Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case.
Kennedy stressed that the case was not about the constitutionality or merits of the race-conscious admission policies of colleges and universities, but instead hinged on whether voters in the state may choose to prohibit consideration of such preferences.
“Here, the principle that the consideration of race in admissions is permissible when certain conditions are met is not being challenged,” Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
The ballet initiative, known as Proposal 2 was passed in 2006. The Sixth Circuit overturned it in 2012.
Justice Sotomayor, who dissented, noted that “without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups.” Proposal 2 was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and others who felt the measure unfairly and unconstitutionally rigs the admissions system against minority students.
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