We're All Losers After the Supreme Court's Decision in Schuette

There are many individuals and groups in Michigan who lost as a result of yesterday's United States Supreme Court decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

Schuette is widely misunderstood as being a case about affirmative action. It is not. In fact, it leaves in place Supreme Court law recognizing diversity as a compelling governmental interest and permitting carefully constructed affirmative action programs. Today's decision has no effect on states that want to adopt or maintain affirmative action plans.

The policies banned by Proposal 2, a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative that led to a state constitutional ban on race-conscious college admissions policies, were all constitutionally permissible. None involved quotas or singling out race over other factors contributing to a diverse student body. Rather, this case is about civic participation for all. The question is not whether universities in the state must implement race-conscious admissions policies. Only whether those who want to take policies that promote racial diversity into consideration along with other diversity factors – that benefit everyone – can compete on the same playing field as other groups advocating for admissions policies that matter to them.

And that is where the losses come in.

Applicants to schools in Michigan who believed that they should be able to ask schools to consider race as one factor in their admission lost.

Even though other students that had alumni parents or grandparents or relatives that made large donations to the school can continue to argue that family giving should be considered in the admissions policy.

Potential students who hail from Buford, Wyo., or other geographically isolated locations will likewise continue to have the opportunity to say that factor should be considered for admission to Michigan universities.

University officials who, following the instruction of the Supreme Court, decided that diversity served important educational interests and put together carefully crafted programs to ensure diversity existed lost.

Students who valued the opportunity to learn in the rich educational environment created by real diversity and sought to be prepared to live in a diverse business and social world lost.

Citizens who believed that educational institutions should reflect the diversity of their state and prepare all of its citizens to assume leadership roles in their state lost.

And, in a very real sense, everyone including those of us outside of Michigan lost as the Supreme Court placed one more obstacle in the path of people seeking, as Justice Sotomayor so movingly put it, "to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government."

Fortunately, these losses are confined to the relatively few states that have enacted total bans on consideration of race in governmental decision making. Today's case is an opportunity for those states to reassess those bans, to take note of the dramatic loss of qualified students of color in their schools and the resulting loss of diversity, and to consider repealing the ill-considered bans.

While a setback for Michigan, affirmative action remains alive and well in many other places across the country. For the states that still allow affirmative action policies, today is an important reminder that although the Supreme Court did not go so far as international law which requires the use of fair consideration of race, it does clearly permit it.

Instead of supporting initiatives that rig the game against people who were traditionally excluded, those states should take every step to enact practices which further the diversity which benefits us all.

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Anonymous

Well if you'd get rid of both Scalia and Thomas, this wouldn't keep happening. I think it's disgusting that everyone knows that one of those people was involved in sexual harassment but he's still siting on the Supreme Court.

Anonymous

liberals are insane. If you would get rid of every liberal on the court then this country would be much better off. in fact lets get rid of all radical liberals

Anonymous

The allegations against Thomas were false and there is no doubt about that in any rational non-racist mind.

Anonymous

The allegations against Thomas were false and there is no doubt about that in any rational non-racist mind.

Anonymous

What's so great about diversity? I'm not being belligerent. I'm seriously wondering, what's the value of having a diverse student body? Can someone articulate that for me?

Anonymous

This is why I don't give money to the ACLU anymore. You lost your way. Affirmative Action is not a Civil LIBERTIES issue. I'm not even anti-Affirmative Action (I certainly support it for any descendants of African slaves in America).

But, you've decided that you're now going to champion every liberal cause (and I'm as liberal as they come). Meanwhile, you've fallen asleep at the switch on your roots.

Change your name to the American Civil Rights Association, or the "We Love All Liberal Causes Club," and be honest about it, but then get out of the way on the actual Civil Liberties issues that you're ignoring so that you can press this agenda.

Anonymous

Affirmative action even benefits whites as it prepares them for what they can expect in the real non academic world. They can watch the reverse discrimination that denies achievement over skin color. They can see in a real sense that skin color trumps all , especially with non-white groups. They learn that hard work and achievement are trumped by the never ending cry of discrimination, and at the same time, experience that discrimination themselves... its a win win!

Anonymous

Im for diversity programs. All my bothas and sistas need to take back whats ours. All these rich white kids get everything.

Anonymous

"Let's treat everybody equally based on their own talents and qualifications." I can see how repugnant that is to the ACLU.

Anonymous

We have those in this country who refuse to acknowledge the very serious problems we are facing in regards to racism and those who would like to turn back the clocks of evolution to a time when hate, oppression and the like ran rampant and was unchecked by any competent moral compass's for the lack of anyone possessing one holding a powerful position.

Today we are witnessing the limelight being put upon those who remain in the dark ages of civil rights and continue to make decisions that no reasonable man or woman with the knowledge of our countries history would ever make.

It has never been a matter of truth, one thing being more important than another, it is simply a matter of vanity and self granduer a pride that dictates to some that they are more important when in fact they are not. But in order for that to be a reality we simply must not give tribute or attention to those who hold that self deception as being true. And we must continue to fight it out in the courts and through protests, etc.

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