The Spectacle Blog

Affirmative Action Supporters Use “Conflicting Arguments” To Make Their Case

By on 7.8.13 | 12:06PM

Affirmative action policies that include race and gender preferences will face another critical challenge before the Supreme Court in the fall when SCOTUS hears an appeal of a lower court decision overturning the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI).

Since the organizations that support race and gender preferences have offered up “conflicting arguments” to make their case, Jennifer Gratz, co-founder and CEO of the XIV (14th) Amendment Foundation, expects the MCRI to be reinstated.

In June, the XIV Foundation filed an amicus brief supporting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's request that the Court reverse the Sixth Circuit decision. The brief was written by Robert Driscoll, an attorney at the D.C.-based law firm Friedlander Misler and a former Justice Department official under President Bush. It is signed by organizers of the MCRI and advocates of similar race preference bans enacted in California, Washington, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Arizona. The leader behind a proposed race preference ban in Colorado is also a signatory.

“Supporters of race preferences now have conflicting arguments,” Gratz said in a press release. “First they argued before the Supreme Court that race preferences were for the benefit of everyone. And now argue in front of the same court that race preferences are for the benefit of minorities. This conflict means that either proponents lied in front of the court before, or they are lying to the court now. This is a sign of just how willing proponents of race preferences are to shoe-horn any argument in order to hold onto the unpopular discriminatory policies.”

For the past 10 years, Gratz has played an instrumental role in promoting race- and gender-neutral policies in line with the principles of the 14th Amendment. As the plaintiff in the 2003 Gratz v. Bollinger Supreme Court case, she successfully challenged racial discrimination in the admissions policies at the University of Michigan. Gratz also spearheaded the MCRI that is now the subject of the appeal before the Supreme Court.

The XIV brief notes that the Supreme Court only permits race to be used in admissions decisions in a “narrowly tailored” fashion that avoids quotas and set-asides.

"The Court has been clear that race preference policies can only exist to the extent they benefit all students by creating a 'diverse' educational environment," Gratz said. "The Court has clearly said that race preference policies designed to benefit some racial 'groups' over others are patently unconstitutional." 

 “Much progress has been made over the past 15 years in challenging discriminatory policies based on race preferences and moving toward colorblind government," she added. "Eight judges put this progress at risk when they decided to overturn MCRI and the will of over 2.1 million Michigan voters who chose equality over discrimination.”

Signatories to the amicus brief include leaders from around the country who have and continue to promote equal treatment under the law without regard to race or gender: 

•           Larry Arnn - President, Hillsdale College; Founding Chairman, California Civil Rights Initiative

•           Glynn Custred – Author, California Civil Rights Initiative

•           John Carlson – Chairman, Washington Civil Rights Initiative

•           Leon Drolet – Chairman, Michigan Civil Rights Initiative

•           Marc Schniederjans – Chairman, Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative

•           Jessica Peck – Executive Director, Colorado Civil Rights Initiative

•           Rachel Alexander – Chairman, Arizona Civil Rights Initiative

•           Representative Gary Hooper – State Representative, New Hampshire; Sponsor of the New Hampshire Civil Rights Initiative

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