U.S. Supreme Court upholds MI affirmative action ban in college admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a Michigan law that bans the use of race-based factors in college admissions.

The law, approved by Michigan voters in a 2006 ballot referendum, bans publicly funded colleges from using race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin to grant preferential treatment to applicants.

Six of the Court’s nine justices voted that a lower court did not have the authority to overturn the law. Two of the justices dissented with that opinion, and one justice abstained from the case.

The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over affirmative action programs whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit.

State officials have said minority enrollment at the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute that and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in fields like law, medicine, and science.

The Michigan ban also prohibits the state from considering race and gender in public hiring and public contracting decisions, but the current high court case dealt only with the college admissions portion.