Supreme Court to decide on key affirmative action case
The Supreme Court will decide if affirmative action is a justifiable factor in college admissions on Tuesday.
The judges will take on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a 2006 constitutional amendment banning the use of racial preferences in public university admissions.
Tomorrow’s ruling could not just affect the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus, but reach seven states. California, Florida, Arizona, Washington, Oklahoma, Nebraska and New Hampshire has similar bans.
The justices could go beyond the dispute over state bans and render a ruling that affects affirmative action policies nationwide — something they stopped short of doing in last year’s Fisher v. University of Texas case by sending it back to the lower courts to scrutinize more closely the use of racial preferences.
Though the legal battle could turn out to be one-sided, the national debate over the impact of banning racial preferences is a far closer call. Beginning in the 1990s in Texas (by court order) and California (by constitutional amendment), the prohibitions have reduced black and Hispanic enrollments at some of the nation’s most elite schools, from those in Berkeley and Los Angeles to Austin and Ann Arbor.
The change resulted in lower percentages of blacks among entering freshman at the country’s top 29 universities in 2011, despite efforts to use race-neutral criteria to diversify their campuses.
Despite evidence showing that affirmative action plays a critical role in diversifying college campuses, critics continue to argue that it should not be a factor. Thoughts?
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