US Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban

April 23, 2014

The US Supreme Court has upheld a 2006 Michigan measure that bars public colleges and universities from considering race in admissions. The plurality opinion emphasized that the ruling does not affect the constitutionality of “race-conscious admissions policies” but that it preserves the right of voters in individual states to choose to prohibit such considerations. The opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito, argues that “the decision by Michigan voters [to overturn affirmative action] reflects the ongoing national dialogue about such practices.” Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg provided a dissenting opinion, arguing that the Michigan measure was a case of “democratically approved legislation … oppress[ing] minority groups.” While this ruling specifically applied to the Michigan measure, it could have far-reaching policy implications for other states that have had similar legislative debates around affirmative action in PSE, including California and Washington State. Inside Higher Ed | Supreme Court Decision