The Supreme Court will expand its review of affirmative action in higher education, announcing Monday that it will hear Michigan's challenge to a lower court decision that a ban on the policy is unconstitutional.
In November, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposal 2, a voter-approved ban on affirmative action policies in Michigan universities, ruling that it violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Proposal 2, which was passed in November 2006 by a margin of 58-42 percent, was pushed by Jennifer Gratz, who worked for the American Civil Rights Institute. Gratz won her own affirmative action case against the University of Michigan in 2003, in a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
“The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative was backed by 58% of the Michigan electorate and simply states that public institutions cannot grant preferential treatment to any group or individual on the basis of race. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the will of the people last November," Gratz said in a statement on the Supreme Court's decision Monday. "The Court erred when it declared equality unconstitutional. We believe the US Supreme Court is poised to overturn the Sixth Circuit’s decision.”
The Supreme Court is also set to rule on whether the University of Texas' affirmative action policy violates the equal protection guarantee. From Bloomberg:
The decision to take up the Michigan case at this stage marks an unusual move for the court. Litigants on both sides had been poised for a ruling in the Texas case in the next three months. Typically, when the court is preparing to rule on an issue, it defers action on appeals that raise similar questions.
Under its normal scheduling practices, the court wouldn’t take up the Michigan case until at least October, when it starts a new, nine-month term. One possibility is that the court might hold off ruling in the Texas case and consider the two cases together in the next term.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Jennifer Gratz lost her Supreme Court case.