To this end, the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action upholding the ban on affirmative action in public-university admissions takes America one step closer to President Kennedy’s dream. In a 6-2 decision, the Court held that a ballot initiative by Michigan residents to bar the use of race preferences as a factor of admission was constitutional.
On a Court that has consistently issued closely contested opinions—often in 5-4 decisions—the overwhelming majority of the Justices recognized the importance and the legality of people in several states like Michigan to prohibit the use of race as a factor in admissions. Despite the commentary to the contrary which is likely to follow in the coming days, the Court did not address whether colleges or universities could use race as a factor of admission—they wisely left the decision to the voters in individual states to make such a decision.
Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy opined:
Here, the principle that the consideration of race in admissions is permissible when certain conditions are met is not being questioned…. The decision by Michigan voters reflects the ongoing national dialogue about such practices.