Mike Kueber's Blog

March 25, 2013

The Supreme Court takes on another affirmative-action case

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear another case on affirmative action – Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.  This case comes from Michigan, where 58% of the voters in 2006 decided to prohibit affirmative action in college admissions as well as government hiring and contracting.  Several states, including California and Florida, have similar laws. 

In a move that defies common sense, as a dissenting federal appellate judge has pointed out, proponents of affirmative action in Michigan are arguing that a state denies equal treatment by mandating it.  But the highly politicized federal appellate court in Michigan bought the argument 8-7, with all eight judges appointed by Democratic presidents and all seven judges appointed by Republican presidents.  (Elections have consequences!)

The case already pending with the Supreme Court is Fisher v. Univ. of Texas.  In that case, which was expected to be ruled on between now and the end of June, the Court will decide if UT can consider race among other factors in deciding who to admit.  According to Reuters

  • That the court agreed to hear the Michigan case before deciding the Texas case is unusual. The court’s normal practice is to wait until it has issued a ruling before agreeing to hear another case on a related issue. This may mean that the court is struggling to decide the Texas case, or that the ruling could be coming as soon as this week.”

I’m not a Court watcher, so I have no idea what this means with respect to Fisher.  I would be shocked, however, if the Court decides that a state cannot eliminate its affirmative-action program.  As Sandra Day O’Connor famously said in her 2003 Grutter decision, affirmative action was only a temporary fix that should not exist in 25 years.

But I suspect that not everyone will be want affirmative action to be temporary.  Just today in the Express-News, page-two columnist Elaine Ayala wrote about some college-prep students debating affirmative action.  At the end of the debate, the students had three choices regarding the future of affirmative action – accepted, waitlisted, or denied.  Ayala reports that, although the least popular choice was “accepted,” the most popular was “waitlisted.”  From that result, Ayala concluded her column by saying, “Perhaps it’s too optimistic to think it shows affirmative action has a future in the minds of these future leaders.  But I’ll take it.”

That doesn’t sound like someone who sees affirmative action as temporary


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