NBA Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action in Michigan
Statement on US Supreme Court Decision on Michigan Affirmative Action Case
On Tuesday, April 22, the United States Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on college affirmative action. The National Bar Association condemns this 6-2 decision by the high court.
The United States Supreme Court upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions in the case Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The law, which was passed by 58 percent of Michigan voters, created Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution, which prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment through consideration of race, sex, ethnicity, and national origin as a consideration in college admission decisions, government contracting, and public employment.
Based on this ruling, the court agrees that voters can strike down affirmative action initiatives which seek to provide opportunities for minorities in their states so that a certain class of citizens can continue to reap the majority of the benefits of education.
Justice Sotomayor, who was joined by Ginsburg in her dissent wrote, “This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”
California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington have also passed voter based laws banning affirmative action in higher education admission decisions. Since the passage of these bans, schools located in these states have seen a drop in the admission of minority students.
At the University of Michigan’s flagship Ann Arbor campus, black enrollment dropped 30 percentafter the state’s affirmative action ban passed in 2006. At the campus’ law school, just 14 black students enrolled in 2008. Enrollment numbers of black students has not risen since that time.
As we prepare to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Educationdecision, we are reminded that while our institutions are integrated we must continue our fight to ensure they remain that way. Tuesday’s ruling becomes part of this country’s long and unfortunate racial discrimination.
We believe that affirmative action and pipeline programs help improve diversity in the legal profession and applaud Justice Sotomayor’s defense of affirmative action.
President, National Bar Association