The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a second case on the use of affirmative action, announcing Monday that it will examine Michigan’s ban on racial considerations in college admissions and professional hiring.
The court is currently hearing a case filed against the University of Texas for discrimination against whites in admissions.
In 2006, Michigan residents voted by a margin of 58 to 42 percent to ban the use of race in considerations for public university admissions and government hiring.
The Michigan amendment was a reaction to a 2003 Supreme Court decision in favor of the University of Michigan Law School that gave special consideration to minorities in its admissions process. State officials ultimately disagreed, pushing forward legislation to guarantee that admissions were based on merit. The law stood for six years before it was struck down in a federal court last November.
“The Michigan Constitution exemplifies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law for all citizens,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement. “Entrance to our great colleges and universities must be based upon merit, and I remain optimistic moving forward in our fight for equality, fairness and rule of law at our nation’s highest court.”
If the court finds that the Michigan ban on affirmative action is constitutional, it could spill over into the University of Texas case. Should justices find that the school was wrong in awarding admission based on race, it would likely end affirmative action in all the nation’s public universities.
The central defense of affirmative action comes from the belief that ending the practice would make it harder for blacks and Latinos to attend secondary education.
The appeal filed by the state says that the practice ultimately discriminates against the majority of the population. Michigan says that the ban is not only about race, but any group that is disadvantaged by the use of affirmative action.