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Education The Courts

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions 410

Posted by Soulskill
from the sensitive-subjects dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."
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Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

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  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:21AM (#46823775)

    AA isn't about letting Forrest Gump into Yale. It's about people who *have* potential but haven't had the means to exercise it. Schools want the athlete with the 3.5 GPA not the sheltered bookwork with a 4.0. For example, you might have worked 40 hours a week to pay your way through college and thus your grades may have suffered. Now, for the sake of argument say a kid who didn't have to work, didn't participate in activities, probably had all his bills and car paid for by his parents, etc. shows up with a slightly higher GPA. Universities want that guy who's a hard worker *and* doing more with less. Remember, they want people who are going to go out into the workforce and produce both alumni revenue and reputation, not disappear into quiet government lab.

    Another example, in my high school we had a girl who was just about a straight A student and took technical classes. In her senior year, a girl from another school enrolled who went to a school with AP classes (that we didn't have) in English and literature and didn't take any technical classes. Now, on paper one had a 4.0 GPA and the other had a 4.5 [sic] GPA. Who do you think a university wants?

    It's silly to think that the enrollment process is so

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:24AM (#46823811)

    You think that because you don't have a clue, hence your "it really seems" comment. Go look at the groups specifically targeted for AA by your college. This list at my alma mater included kids from economically advantaged communities and backgrounds in rural towns (which in Kansas means probably 99% chance of being White). AA also applies to women.

  • well.. hold on (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:51AM (#46824191)

    I see everyone going off on either Libertarian or Leftist rants here... but it's not quite that simple.

    First, my son is black, I'm white... so I have a vested interest in both races succeeding :-) So that's full disclosure I guess...

    First, the reason for affirmative action is often argued as a way to help "the disadvantaged" Well, this is just flat out wrong. Diversity in a school, or anywhere for that matter, doesn't aid the minority students all that much. Yea, sure, they would have gotten in where maybe they otherwise couldn't, but does that really help them? Do get into a school they weren't qualified for? Diversity helps the SCHOOL and the students of the majority. If you went to an all white school, how well prepared do you think you would be for the modern working world? Diversity gives the school and the students have a broader view of the world. Marketing students gets more experience with other races and cultures. Programers learn how to communicate with people that might not speak English that well. (I just got out of a metting where my 60yr old co-worker was completely lost because the guy leading the meeting was teleconferencing from India. I didn't have a problem.) Engineering students learn new techniques from people that may have had different experiences.

    With regard to my son, it's really hard to find good role models for him. Yes, there are plenty of great African American Scientists form throughout history. But they are not held in that high of a regard by the African American community. I get to go to "African American Parents groups" and I see it there. It's kind of weird that an the majority of a communities basis for success is related to professional athletes. It's something I had not anticipating as being that big of a problem, but I can really see it now that I have a son that's black. Obama, though I disagree with almost all of his policies, has been a huge boon in that regard. I can point to him and say "See? The most important person in the free world looks like you!" and yes, that is something he's asked about. I think the only real problem he has now is he wishes he had strait hair because he wants to have more than 3 options (shaved, Mohawk or Afro) when he goes to the barber.

    So the question is: Should the schools garner this diversity benefit at the expense of white kids? I say no. And again, I think the arguments been reversed. It's not a dis-service to the white students. They'll get a degree from somewhere. But what does this do to the minority community? I don't want my son to EVER think he deserves something because of the color of his skin, or some injustice that happened to his ancestors. I want him to know that when he succeeds that it was on his own merits. Granted, my son will never be in poverty while I'm around (providing the job market doesn't crash) but I'd say that if poverty is your concern you should address that directly. Donate to charities that help with school and give scholarships. A scholarship can be race based, I have no problem with that. But don't you ever tell my son he's less of a person because of his ancestry and needs the states help to get into college.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:52AM (#46824213)

    Gay marriage is about gaining the SAME right as the rest of the population. Affirmative action is about granting certain racial groups EXTRA rights over the rest of the population.

    You clearly dont understand what marriage is. Marriage is not a holy bond, nor do homosexuals want to get married out of a great respect for the institution of marriage. They want to be able to get married because marriage gives them extra rights that unmarried people (the rest of the population) do not have. Note how I used your own terminology and it fits exactly.

    The push for gay marriage was never about equality. A push for equality would remove all special rights from the married class or give all the special rights the married class has to the unmarried class. Since gay marriage does neither, it cannot be about equality at all. Its about adding themselves to the special rights group that enjoys 1,138 statutory provisions [gao.gov] that use marriage as the determining factor for EXTRA benefits and privileges.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @10:53AM (#46824235) Homepage

    The college admission "process" is so arbitrary and broken that doing pretty much anything to it would be an improvement.

    That being said, I have a hard time believing in equality as a tenet of our country (even equality of opportunity) when the opportunities of a poor kid from the ghetto, a farm kid from small-town America, a middle-class kid from the burbs, and a rich kid from a mansion differ so greatly. Affirmative action was a way (no matter how imperfect) to attempt to address this issue. I wonder how long the myth of American "equality" can sustain itself when even ameliorative programs such as this are shut down with nothing offered in their place to address this issue.

Our policy is, when in doubt, do the right thing. -- Roy L. Ash, ex-president, Litton Industries

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