Education

Can Voters Ban Affirmative Action?

The nation’s highest court weighed affirmative action once again on Tuesday, this time hearing arguments about whether voters should be allowed to ban consideration of race and other factors in public education and public employment.
October 16, 2013
 

The nation’s highest court weighed affirmative action once again on Tuesday, this time hearing arguments about whether voters should be allowed to ban consideration of race and other factors in public education and public employment.

In 2006, 58 percent of voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure—known as Proposal 2—to ban the use of race, ethnicity, gender and other factors in college admissions and public employment and contracting.

Eight states ban the use of race in public college and university admissions—in addition to Michigan, they are Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington.

In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Michigan Solicitor General John J. Bursch argued that Michigan’s constitutional amendment represents the desire of the people of Michigan “to move past the day when we’re only focused on race.”

Bursch said that while the benefits of diversity were not in dispute, the University of Michigan could use tactics other than affirmative action to improve diversity on campus, such as eliminating preferences for children of alumni and seeking out socioeconomic diversity.

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