On April 22, in a 6–2 decision (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself), the Supreme Court found that a state can prohibit considering an applicant’s race when determining admission for public colleges and universities. The decision, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, ruled on a question that was taken up by the court centered on a 2006 Michigan referendum known as Proposal 2, which added language to the state’s constitution that prohibits using race as a factor when determining admission. The decision leaves the court’s 2003 Gratz v. Bollinger case intact, which affirmed a public institution’s ability to make race-conscious decisions.
The larger implication of this decision is that states with growing or prominent Latino populations can pass amendments similar to Michigan’s, which could prevent a public institution from making race-conscious decisions. This means that the benefits of experiencing diversity that come with interacting with people who are different from you, which were so eloquently outlined in the military and Fortune 500 amicus briefs, and were mentioned in Grutter v. Bollinger, may be lost for allstudents. In addition, according to Lyle Denniston from SCOTUSblog, while this ruling was “focused on the use of race in selecting new students for public colleges, it presumably also would permit voters to end race-conscious policies in [the] hiring of state and local employees and in awarding public contracts.”
NCLR is concerned with the ramifications of this decision and will be monitoring the situation carefully in the coming months. Latino students deserve a better opportunity to succeed in this country and this decision doesn’t bring us any closer to equality.
Justice Sotomayor made the unusual move of reading her dissenting opinion from the bench. In it, she chided the majority for wanting to “wish away” this country’s problems with race rather than tackle them. We agree with Justice Sotomayor and thank her for standing up for the minority communities that will be affected by the court’s misguided opinion.
You can also say “thanks” to Justice Sotomayor. Just fill out the form below and we’ll send her your message of support.