Eight years ago, the State of Michigan approved a proposition barring affirmative action in public education, employment or contracting. It – Proposition 2 – won a 58 percent majority. (Note: Michigan is roughly 81 percent white, 14 percent black, and 4 percent Hispanic.) The next day, opponents filed a federal lawsuit claiming the measure as unconstitutional. This week, the Supreme Court upheld the State’s amendment (6-2). In the majority was Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote that courts should resist involving judges “in the dirty business of dividing the nation into racial blocs.” Justice Sotomayor, the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice, loudly dissented.
Eight states now ban the use of race in college admissions. Asked on NPR about whether the drop in black student matriculation at the University of Michigan was due to new laws, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said: “Yes. I mean that’s a given.” (Bolinger was president of Michigan during some major affirmative action battles in the past.) Although Hispanics are the largest minority group on the nation’s college campuses, a milestone first achieved in 2011, significant drops in the enrollment of Hispanic students have been recorded in the eight states banning race as a consideration, including California (where 49% of college-aged residents are Hispanic), Texas (45%), and Florida (27%).