Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: March 25, 2012
  • Case #: 12-682
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 652 F.3d 607, 112 FEP Cases 1331 (6th Cir. 2011)
  • Full Text Opinion

"Whether a state violates the Equal Protection Clause by amending its constitution to prohibit race- and sex-based discrimination or preferential treatment in public-university admissions decisions."

Michigan adopted a proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution. The amendment called "Proposal 2" stated that no “public college...could discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."

Respondent filed suit in the District Court of Eastern Michigan challenging the constitutionality of Proposal 2 under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court granted summary judgment to petitioners, rejecting respondent’s arguments that Proposal 2 violated the Equal Protection Clause. Respondent appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Sixth Circuit held that Proposal 2 violated the Equal Protection Clause. The court applied the two part test in Washington v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1., 458 U.S. 457 (1982) and Hunter v. Erickson, 393 U.S. 385(1969). The court held that Proposal 2 has a "racial focus" because it "inures primarily to the benefit of the minority, and is designed for that purpose." Additionally, Proposal 2 is part of the "political process" and will impose a "special burden" on minorities. After finding that Proposal 2 failed the two part test, the court applied strict scrutiny. Finding no compelling state interest the court held Proposal 2 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether a statute violates the Equal Protection Clause when a state amends its constitution to prohibit race and sex based discrimination or preferential treatment in public university admission decisions.

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