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Michigan’s affirmative action ban still stands, despite court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court building
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court
The Supreme Court's ruling today doesn't override Michigan's constitutional ban on "preferntial treatment" for race in admissions.

Michigan's ban on affirmative action still stands, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Thursday.

That ruling upholds the University of Texas’ use of race as one factor in its admissions process.

But that doesn’t override the ban that Michigan voters approved in 2006, which amends the state Constitution to say public universities can’t discriminate against, or give preference to, anybody based on their race:

“The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

So as far as Michigan’s public universities are concerned, nothing changes today because of this decision.

“The Supreme Court opinion now allows institutions within state who are not banned from using race, to do so – but since Michigan is already under that ban by its own Constitution, the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t change that,” says Patricia Marin, assistant professor of higher, adult, and lifelong education at Michigan State University’s College of Education.

University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel’s office sent out the following statement:

“Decades of research have conclusively demonstrated the benefits of diversity in higher education. Today's ruling is a victory for all who value a robust exchange of perspectives and support our ability to prepare students to succeed in an increasingly multicultural society. “Universities cannot be excellent without being diverse. Public universities such as the University of Michigan and the University of Texas have a special role and responsibility to uphold these inseparable values. “It is, however, important to note that this U.S. Supreme Court ruling does not apply to the University of Michigan. Michigan is one of eight states that has forbidden the consideration of race in college admissions. “Regardless of that limitation, the University of Michigan remains steadfastly committed to building and maintaining diversity on our campus. We will continue to work toward that goal in ways that comply with state and federal law.”

The University of Michigan also filed a brief in support of the University of Texas, said university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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