Supreme Court adds affirmative action case
NEW YORK TIMES
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday added a new affirmative action case to its docket. It is already considering a major challenge to the University of Texas' race-conscious admissions program.
The new case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, No. 12-682, concerns a voter initiative in Michigan that banned racial preferences in admissions to the state's public universities.
In November, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Cincinnati, ruled that the initiative, which amended the state constitution, violated the federal Constitution's equal protection clause.
The initiative, approved in 2006 by 58 percent of the state's voters, prohibited discrimination or preferential treatment in public education, government contracting and public employment. Groups favoring affirmative action sued to block the part of the law concerning higher education.
The appeals court majority said the problem with the law was that it restructured the state's political process by making it harder for disfavored minorities to press for change.
In urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Bill Schuette, Michigan's attorney general, said the 6th Circuit decision was "exceedingly odd."
A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union defended the decision.
"The vice of Proposal 2," the brief said, "is that it selectively shuts off access to the ordinary political processes for advocates of otherwise permissible race-conscious policies."
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco, came to the opposite conclusion in 1997, upholding the state's ban on racial preferences in higher education and saying it "would be paradoxical" to rule otherwise.