The Supreme Court upheld a Michigan voter initiative Tuesday banning racial preferences in admissions to the state's public universities. The justices ruled 6-2 Tuesday that the affirmative action ban, approved by voters in 2006, allowed Michigan the right to prohibit public colleges and universities from using race, ethnicity or gender as a factor for admissions. In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the court did not have the authority to throw out the election results of the voter-approved initiative. Those joining the majority opinion -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- stressed, however, that the ruling did not address the constitutionality of affirmative action itself.
"The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat. But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities. The political-process doctrine polices the channels of change to ensure that the majority, when it wins, does so without rigging the rules of the game to ensure its success. Today, the Court discards that doctrine without good reason. "In doing so, it permits the decision of a majority of the voters in Michigan to strip Michigan's elected university boards of their authority to make decisions with respect to constitutionally permissible race-sensitive admissions policies, while preserving the boards' plenary authority to make all other educational decisions. [...] "Today's decision eviscerates an important strand of our equal protection jurisprudence. 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."