Court to decide if race preference bans hurt diversity

(USAToday) To hear Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette explain it, what could be wrong with a state constitutional amendment that "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin?"

Just about everything, says Mark Rosenbaum of the American Civil Liberties Union and a host of civil rights groups. "While that makes a good bumper sticker … it's not the truth," Rosenbaum says. "Instead of healing the nation's wounds, it's actually opening those wounds."

Those two views will play out before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, almost precisely a year after the justices heard another major case on a subject that has divided the nation — and the high court — for decades: affirmative action.

On the docket will be the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a 2006 constitutional amendment banning the use of racial preferences in public university admissions. It may not be a close fight. Lawyers for Schuette (pronounced Shoo-tee) are likely to convince the conservative court that, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it a few years back, "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

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