Scholars Applaud Supreme Court for Upholding Michigan Racial Preferences Ban


New York, NY (April 22, 2014)—Today the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Proposal 2, a measure passed by Michigan voters in 2006 to ban racial preferences in university admissions. The National Association of Scholars (NAS), which helped introduce Proposal 2, and which filed an amicus brief in the case, praised the Court’s decision.  

Proposal 2 was advanced by civil rights activists Ward Connerly and Jennifer Gratz, with support from the NAS. In 2006, Michigan voters passed the Proposal, approving a constitutional amendment that prohibits race-based preferences in state university admissions.

In 2011 and 2012 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Proposal 2 unconstitutional, declaring that it violated the Equal Protection Clause.

“The Supreme Court's decision today is a welcome return to sanity,” said George W. Dent, Jr., NAS board member and professor of law at Case Western Reserve University. “The purpose of both the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution and of the amendment to the Michigan Constitution is to prevent invidious discrimination. It is therefore ridiculous to claim that the latter violates the former.” 

Professor Dent continued, “The two dissenters [Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg] claimed that the Michigan amendment erected a special obstacle to interest groups seeking favored treatment for themselves. However, every constitutional provision erects a special obstacle; provisions barring establishment of religion protect Americans from religious discrimination, just as the Michigan provision here protected citizens from racial discrimination. A state constitutional amendment is a valid way to achieve such protection.”

Ward Connerly, a member of the NAS board of trustees, said, “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court validated the people's right to demand that all Americans be treated as equals in the public arena. By upholding Proposal 2 in Michigan, and, in effect, Proposal 209 in California as well as similar measures in other states, the court gave true meaning to the constitutional principle of ‘equality under the law.’”

“I am delighted that NAS provided leadership on this all-important moral issue.”

NAS advocates for excellence in higher education by encouraging commitment to high intellectual standards, individual merit, institutional integrity, good governance, and sound public policy. To learn more about NAS, visit

CONTACT: Ashley Thorne, Director, Center for the Study of the Curriculum: 917-551-6770; [email protected].

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