Preferences Nullified

SCOTUS vs. affirmative action


In November 2006, by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent, Michigan voters endorsed Proposition 2, a ballot initiative aimed at amending the state constitution in order to make it illegal for state officials, including those who work at state universities, colleges, and local public school districts, "to discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin." In effect, the amendment prohibited the use of affirmative action in public education.

A group of plaintiffs led by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary promptly challenged the law in federal court, eventually scoring a significant victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which held that Proposition 2 violated the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection in the context of public education.

In April 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling and upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 2. "This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," declared Justice Anthony Kennedy in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary. "There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this Court's precedents for the Judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters."