In a "fractured" 6-2 decision that revealed deep divisions over the role the judiciary should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment banning affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities.
The ruling effectively endorses similar measures in seven other states and encourages more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity, says The New York Times.
The justices wrote five separate opinions expressing sharply conflicting views.
“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. “There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”
But Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a 58-page dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Today’s decision eviscerates an important strand of our equal protection jurisprudence.”
Sotomayor said the ruling “reveals how little my colleagues understand about the reality of race in America.”