The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to hear a second case involving affirmative action, this time signaling an interest in addressing the topic in a wider and possibly more sweeping fashion.
The question raised in Schuette v. Michigan Coalition to Defend is whether a state may ban its public universities and colleges from any use of race as a factor in admissions. In 2006, Michigan voters — by a margin of 58-to-42 — adopted Proposal 2, enacting such a ban. A sharply divided and full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel struck down that ban by an 8-to-7 vote.
The court is already expected to rule any day now (and possibly as early as tomorrow or Wednesday when decisions are issued this week) in another affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas — a more limited appeal focusing specifically on the admissions plan at the University of Texas at Austin.
Many expected that the court would not entertain an appeal in Schuette until after it ruled in Fisher, so today’s grant may reflect a court ready to dig deeper on the question of affirmative action.