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Affirmative action in college admissions?
April 22nd, 2014
04:29 PM ET

Affirmative action in college admissions?

Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, a key decision in an unfolding legal and political battle nationally over affirmative action.

The justices found 6-2 that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters.

It bars publicly funded colleges from granting "preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's first Latina, reacted sharply to the decision.

"For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government," Sotomayor wrote.

But three justices in the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito. concluded that the lower court did not have the authority to set aside the law.

"This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," Kennedy wrote.


We want you to weigh in: The Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on affirmative action for college admissions; do you agree or disagree?

Vote by tweeting Agree or Disagree using #Crossfire or by commenting on our Facebook post. View results below or through our Poptip results page.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Lord Haw Haw

    Multiple murderer OJ Simpson didn't even face the death penalty, thanks to that wimp Gil Garcetti. Then an all crime-prone Negroid and Negroid-loving jury let him off in 1995. The good people of California however got their payback. In 1996 they abolished Affirmative Action. Now everybody in liberal California has to get off their backsides and work hard to get ahead, just like everybody else. 🙂

    April 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  2. uncdig

    It simply means that EVERYONE has an right to an EQUAL chance of getting a college education.

    April 28, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  3. Manuel Madera

    This is just "reverse descrimination" regardless of what logic is used to explain it.

    April 27, 2014 at 10:24 am | Reply
  4. Hector Slagg

    It's been 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed. How much longer is it necessary for Affirmative Action to go on? It is time for so called minorities to sink or swim. For the next 3 years at least we still have the Nanny State. Hope you have a good retirement plan.

    April 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Reply
    • kurt

      Are you honestly against the Civil Rights act? You think it should be okay for employers or businesses to discriminate based on things like religion, military service, gender to decide who they hire or serve?

      That's just insane.

      Look, it's very easy to know when civil rights laws are no longer needed. It's when nobody is found guilty of violating them anymore. The fundamentals of the law don't change. It's never going to be okay to discriminate based on race or gender in who you sell pizza to or hire to work the register. These laws will go away on their own when they are no longer needed... because the way they'll no longer be needed is when people stop breaking them.

      April 28, 2014 at 9:58 am | Reply
  5. 2L

    Most colleges don't base admissions soley on academics – that's why the majority also require an essay – to find out who you are beyond the numbers and how your background, skills, and talents not measured quantitatively can contribute to the school.

    April 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  6. amymay2012

    “We must realize that our party’s most powerful weapon is racial tension. By propounding into the consciousness of the dark races that for centuries they have been oppressed by the Whites, we can mould them to the program of the Communist party. In America, we will aim for subtle victory. While inflaming the Negro minority against the Whites, we will endeavour to instill in the Whites a guilt complex for their exploitation of the negroes, we will aid the negroes to rise in prominence in every walk of life, in the professions, and in the world of sports and entertainment. With this prestige the negro will be able to intermarry with the Whites and begin a process which will deliver America to our cause.” (Jew Israel Cohen : “A Racial Programme for the Twentieth Century”)

    April 26, 2014 at 1:53 am | Reply
  7. dmf

    The 6 – 2 Supreme court decision on affirmative action case is very sad ! If this is not a very loud expression of insensitivity , by majority of judges on the bench , on the race issues ! Resulting , in continued discrimination against minority students ' admissions in best colleges , and on other programs . What are any hidden legal wisdom , moral justifications and larger public goods if any , as deriving force for this Supreme court decision ?

    April 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Reply

    Forget local. Go global. This is a global society. With the ban of Affirmative Action and no preferential treatment by race, this is a great time for the USA universities to go GLOBAL. Open admissions to the best and richest foreign students in the WORLD. Everything is based on merit. The USA universities will be racking in some serious dollars, probably 5 times more in tuition revenues. Go for it before they change their minds!

    April 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  9. Game on

    So, there are 1.3 billion Chinese and 1.2 billion Indians who are considered Asians. If the colleges go by merit and not by race, this is okay for admissions, right? You are ready to have 100% Asians in USA universities? Game on! You get what you asked for!

    April 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Reply
    • cmml

      If you believe that Asians are better than Americans in everything then you're probably right, but fortunately, that's not the case and Universities are allowed to base admission on a number of factors – not just grades.

      April 25, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
    • Gunderson

      Aw, no!,
      You mean 100 years of Liberal Politics were for nothing! You mean we gave away the store. You mean the Nanny State is real! No, who would have guessed !!!

      April 26, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Reply

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    This transcends racial lines. Goes for ALL races.

    April 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • DRJJ

      Well said and very true! Grades should be the most important factor in rationing scarce college openings. We are after our finest and best practices aren't we?

      April 24, 2014 at 11:57 am | Reply

    Approximately 16% of the ones that voted in this poll are racist. Shame on you people.

    April 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  12. sam

    It is a no brainer. Positive discrimination is still discrimination. It would be more appropriate to look at the high school the child attended and consider that with their GPA. I'd probably rank a black or white kid from a private school with a 4.0 GPA below a black or white kid from an inner city high school with a 3.0 GPA.

    April 23, 2014 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • TerminalSanity

      Affirmative action isn't positive discrimination its proactively accounting for racial discrimination both past and present
      and the socio-economic disadvantages it continues to place upon minorities. That's all it ever was about.

      Getting really tired of the ridiculous addressing racism is racist line. Racism still exists, the consequences of past racism still exist stop trying to act like the mere act of trying to do something about that is counterproductive. Now if you have actually have some ideas on how address the problem better I'm all ears but if your only ideas you can offer consist of inaction you're not addressing anything.

      April 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Reply

        And only the ignorant and foolish actually think only white people can be racist.

        Giving one race a pass to be racist isn't fair, right or ethical.

        April 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
      • George

        Affirmative action is discrimination against all those non-minorities.

        April 23, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
  13. Chuck

    The 'Wise Latina' believes that the government should be in the business of discriminating against whites.

    April 23, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • Mariadela

      That's not what she was getting at. What she was trying to say was that the groups that haven't been oppressed for such a long time wouldn't really feel the difference it would make. Whether we like it or not, there is segregation in America, and in places where there is majority of a minority, the level of education is much lower. If a person of that ethnicity is able to produce results that are considered average in a "all white school" but are considered exceptional in a place where the minority rules, then they should also be recognized for rising over the limit that the cultural barrier had provided. That's what she was trying to say

      April 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  14. pjoe

    Affirmative Action is racist. Stop it.

    April 23, 2014 at 10:25 am | Reply
  15. kurt

    "race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin"

    This is the part that bugs me a bit. When I was at the University of Georgia, there was a big hubbub about our admissions policies and how race was used.

    Here's how it actually worked. 90% of admissions were based solely on academics. For the remaining 10%, there was a point system in place that took other factors into account. This included volunteer work and extracurricular involvement, as well as academics (you got points for SAT scores in a certain range or GPA scores in a certain range). But keep in mind... these are the people who didn't get in past the academic only admission standards.

    Then there were the "other" things. You got a point if you have family who were alumni. You go a point if you had no parents or grandparents with a college degree. You got a half point for being a minority. And you got a half point for being male (at the time, UGA was 55% female and was looking to get back to 50/50).

    Nobody at the time had any problem with the legacy provision... which had DOUBLE the impact of the race provision and because the college had been over 90% white over it's history tended statistically to have a racially biased impact. And nobody recognized the fact that the people that were even being discussed were already on the academic bubble.

    In the end... I could never see why it would be problematic to give some bonus to demographics that have statistically had a raw deal in the past and are more likely to have had less opportunity for success (such as those from low education, low income, or discriminated against groups) when it's seen as perfectly fine to give a bonus to someone just because one of their parents happened to attend the same university.

    April 22, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Reply
    • alistair

      Well said

      April 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Reply
    • cmml


      You must have attended UGA a while ago because the Hope Scholarship has changed everything.

      Because the HOPE is keeping the best and brightest HS students in GA, the state has had to establish a zip code based quota system so that students from every part of the state has the opportunity for admission. There are now students in East Cobb who have achieved 4.0 GPA's and 1400 SATs being denied admission in favor of a 3.5 GPA 1200 student from Columbus. Race is not the determining factor, but is obviously part of the equation in that there are zip codes that are almost exclusively white and exclusively black.

      April 25, 2014 at 8:38 am | Reply
      • kurt

        I was at UGA in the early days of hope (graduatend in 2000).

        But the geographic weighting is being applied the same was as what I described. 90% or more are admitted solely based on academics still... it's only the borderline cases where other factors come into play. There IS no quota... only "points" as I described above.

        They HAVE taken race out of the point mix due to the complaints that were being made back when I was a student in the late 90's. They also took legacy status out (no more bonus points for your dad being a UGA grad).

        The fact remains that academics is the sole determinant for 90% of the students admitted each year. We're STILL only talking about borderline people.

        A quick google search doesn't show any stories about UGA denials with 1400 (out of 1600) SAT scores. If it's 1400 out of 2400... well that's definitely something that would kick you out of the top 90% of applicants even with a 4.0.

        If you want more details about what I'm talking about with UGA and the admission contreversy, here's an article:

        The issue comes down to this: UGA is supposed to helf fufill the academic needs of those who live in the state of Georgia at a bachelors, masters and doctoral level. The state of Georgia is 30% black. UGA's student body is 7.7% black. (up from 5% when I was a student)

        And people claim that the University is biased against whites. Yeah.... okay.

        April 28, 2014 at 10:26 am |
  16. GOP Prayer

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Reply
    • DRJJ

      Racist, hateful and godless is no way to go through life.

      April 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Reply
      • Spread the GOP "Love"

        I'm just trying to spread the GOP "Love" for the Old, Sick, and Poor. Read the Ryan Budget to see how much "Love" the GOP want to inflict on the Old, Sick, and Poor people.

        April 25, 2014 at 9:32 am |
    • Dingleberry

      I am glad to see you have mastered the CUT & PASTE option on your computer. I see you have nothing better to do with your day but to go into every post and paste your garbage. Why not stay on topic and actually post something worthwhile about the subject at hand.

      Now about this post. Affirmative action much like unions had a time and place but IMHO both have out lived their usefulness and are causing more harm than help at this point.

      April 25, 2014 at 8:47 am | Reply
      • Spread the GOP "Love"

        I'm just trying to spread the "Love" that the GOP have for the Old, Sick, Poor, and Non-white people. That "Love" is so sincere. Haven't you read the Ryan Budget that shows how much "Love" the GOP have for the Old, Sick, Poor, and Non-white people. Apparently the GOP really "Love" the Unions too. Is this topic about Unions? Oh, I guess not.

        April 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm |

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