Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of State Ban on Affirmative Action
The Supreme Court is expected to soon decide whether an amendment to a state constitution that bans the use of affirmative action at public universities is unconstitutional. The case is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and oral arguments were held before the Court in October, 2013.
The facts of the case
The case involves a challenge to Proposal 2, an amendment to the Michigan Constitution, approved by voters in 2006, that banned affirmative action in the state. A coalition of groups and individuals who support the ability to use race as a determining factor for admission to a university challenged the statewide ban on affirmative action.
The federal district court upheld the ban enacted by the Michigan voters. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down the affirmative action ban. The full Sixth Circuit agreed that Proposal 2 was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The ruling by the full appeals court produced five separate dissenting opinions.
Oral arguments before the Supreme Court
Michigan’s state solicitor argued to the Court that a provision of the state constitution requiring equal treatment for all citizens could not violate the U.S. Constitution. He suggested that the voters in Michigan want to move past focusing on race. He also stated that if the ban was struck down, the decision could place numerous federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act in jeopardy since those laws may forbid states from considering race.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg made it fairly clear that they would vote to strike down the ban, while Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, and Antonin Scalia did not ask Michigan’s attorney any questions at all. The Chief Justice’s question for him was described as a “softball.” Justice Elena Kagan is recused from the case. Justice Anthony Kennedy remained the unknown with questions regarding how this case is different from Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1, in which the Supreme Court rejected a voter initiative that prohibited mandatory busing designed to promote racial integration in public schools.
Attorneys for the challengers jumped on Justice Kennedy’s concerns and argued that there are no significant differences between this case and the Washington case. They emphasized that in order to uphold the ban, the Court would be required to overrule the prior decision. There was also discussion regarding whether affirmative action actually benefits minority groups. There was also argument regarding when the political restricting doctrine applies to make unconstitutional state laws that ban programs involving race.
After oral argument it appeared that Michigan’s ban on the use of affirmative action will be upheld, but we will report back when the Court announces its ruling.
Supreme Court Tackles Bridgegate Scandal and Four Other Casesby DONALD SCARINCI on January 21, 2020
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kelly v. United States, the criminal case...
Supreme Court Kicks Off Second Half of 2019-2020 Termby DONALD SCARINCI on January 16, 2020
The Supreme Court is back in session, with the justices returning from their winter break on Januar...
Separation of Powers Under Morrison v. Olsonby DONALD SCARINCI on January 14, 2020
In Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the independent counsel pr...
- Establishment ClauseFree Exercise Clause
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedoms of Press
- Freedom of Assembly, and Petitition
- The Right to Bear Arms
- Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
- Due Process
- Eminent Domain
- Rights of Criminal Defendants
Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.