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Supreme Court to make ruling on affirmative action

The Supreme Court is deliberating a ruling on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which effectively bans affirmative action based on race, sex, color or religion in admissions for colleges and other publicly funded institutions.

The court heard its first arguments for the case in October and will determine whether states have the constitutional authority to democratically ban affirmative action through a state amendment.

Former Michigan State Representative and MCRI Chairman Leon Drolet, R-Clinton Township, said Michigan citizens have the right to ban affirmative action admittance policies. Although such policies are well-intended, he said, they are effectively discriminatory and harmful to those they attempt to benefit.

"It discriminates against individuals based on their race," Drolet said. "These policies treat people as racial categories instead of as individuals. They create separate standards that favor some racial groups and discriminate against others."

Drolet said studies by UCLA law professor Richard Sander have concluded that affirmative action creates a mismatch between students and their academic courses.

Sander found students who were admitted to colleges as a result of affirmative action dropped out at a rate three times higher than the rest of the student populace.

"In many ways, the intended beneficiaries of these policies become the victims," Drolet said.

Political science professor Sterling Johnson said such attempts to equate affirmative action with racial discrimination are inaccurate.

He said such policies are necessary to combat discrimination that minorities face.

"The most segregated state in the United States is Michigan,” Johnson said. “The three most segregated cities are Detroit, Saginaw and Flint, yet they say we don't need affirmative action."

Johnson said allegations of affirmative action being unnecessary or unjust are inaccurate when compared to reality.

"They would have us believe that there's no such thing as racial discrimination anymore, that if you get rid of this, everybody is going to be fine,” Johnson said. “Look at the black unemployment rate, the black incarceration rate. They are trying to make the definition of affirmative action sound like non-discrimination."

Nevertheless, Drolet said it was important to examine persons on a case-by-case basis, and race should not be a factor.

However, he said socioeconomic affirmative action may be something desired for admittance policies.

"If some kid went to an under-performing school districts with no AP classes and grows up while having to raise his family, that kid deserves a second look,” Drolet said. “This is regardless, of whether he's white, green, black, Asian or whatever.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling is set to occur at some time between December and June.

Only eight justices will be making a decision for Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, as Justice Elena Kagan recused herself due to her previous work on the subject as solicitor general.

Therefore, a 4-4 ruling would be all that is necessary to uphold the lower court decision that ruled the state amendment unconstitutional.