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Supreme Court Will Hear Michigan Case On Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court added another controversial case to its docket today: The court agreed to hear a case about a Michigan ballot initiative that banned racial preferences in the admission practices of the state's public university.

This is surprising, because if you've been following the court this term, you'll know that it is about to hand down a decision on another case concerning affirmative action. Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which the court heard last year, challenges the consideration of race in college admissions.

SCOTUSblog reports, however, that Schuette v. Michigan Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action may end up being more important than the Fisher case.

The blog reports:

"The Fisher case, while it does have fairly broad potential, focuses directly only on the specifics of an affirmative action plan at Texas's flagship university in Austin, and so the ruling in that case might not go much beyond that plan. The Michigan case, however, involves a move by a state to deny its public colleges and universities any right to use race as a factor in choosing the incoming class of students. It thus has the potential to produce a far more sweeping decision.

"Although Proposal 2 barred the use of race not only in public education, but also in public contracts and employment, only the ban in education was considered and struck down by the Sixth Circuit decision."

The New York Times reports that the initiative was approved by 58 percent of voters in 2006. But an appeals court ruled the state amendment unconstitutional, because it "it restructured the state's political process by making it harder for disfavored minorities to press for change."

CNN adds:

"The office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette will defend the ban when oral arguments are held in the fall.

"The ban 'embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law,' Schuette said. 'Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit.'"

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