Supreme Court Takes Up Affirmative Action Case with a Twist

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-10_41f5b1a66d.jpgiStock/Thinkstock (WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court will take up affirmative action Tuesday in a case challenging Michigan’s ban on race-conscious admissions policies at public universities. Unlike recent cases in which the high court has examined a particular plan at a public university, this case looks at affirmative action from a different perspective: a state’s total ban on racial preferences in higher education.

“The people of Michigan concluded that not having affirmative action in higher education was the best policy for the state,” says state Attorney General Bill Schuette in defending Proposal 2, the ballot initiative that passed in 2006 with 58 percent of the vote and amended the state Constitution.

In court papers, Schuette says that even though the Supreme Court allows race-conscious admissions policies in very narrow circumstances, his state decided to pass the ban.

A collection of individuals and interest groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, challenged Proposal 2 and won their case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.

The deeply divided appeals court invalidated the ballot initiative in March of 2012, holding that it placed a special burden on minorities within the governmental process in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

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