In 2003, despite the Constitutional prohibition on racial discrimination, the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger permitted the University of Michigan to consider applicants’ race to ensure a diverse student body. In response to Grutter, the voters of Michigan passed Proposition 2, a statewide ban on race and sex preferences in public school admissions, government contracting, and public employment. A pro-affirmative action group challenged the initiative in federal court on the grounds that it reorganized the political process in a way that disadvantaged minority groups, and thus violated the federal Equal Protection Clause.
Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action et al. (No. 12-682) -
On April 22, 2014, the Supreme Court rejected that challenge 6-2. The Court stopped short of declaring the “political process” doctrine dead, a position adopted by only two Justices. Justice Kennedy’s opinion for three justices controlled the case and substantially narrowed the doctrine without providing much guidance for lower courts to apply going forward.
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