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High court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban

Tuesday - 4/22/2014, 12:40pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is upholding the decision by Michigan voters to ban the use of race as a factor in college admissions.

The justices said in a 6-2 ruling today that voters had the right to change their state constitution, to prohibit public colleges and universities from considering race in deciding which students get admitted.

A lower court had set aside the change, saying it was discriminatory.

Writing for the majority justices today, Anthony Kennedy said voters chose to eliminate racial preferences, presumably because it's a system that could lead to race-based resentment. He said the court had no basis for changing the election result.

He said the case isn't about how the debate on racial preferences should be resolved -- but rather "about who may resolve it."

In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the decision tramples on the rights of minorities. She said legislation approved by voters can potentially "oppress minority groups."

Similar voter-approved initiatives are in place in California and Washington state.

Since the ban took effect in Michigan, black and Latino enrollment at the University of Michigan has dropped.

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164-c-24-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent)-"right of minorities"-AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports that in a 6-to-2 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld Michigan's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions. . (22 Apr 2014)

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163-v-31-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent)--The Supreme Court has upheld a state's prohibition on affirmative action. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (22 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO WX103: FILE - This Oct. 13, 2013 file photo shows Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speaking at the University of Pennsylvania law school in Philadelphia. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions. The justices said in a 6-2 ruling that Michigan voters had the right to change their state constitution to prohibit public colleges and universities from taking account of race in admissions decisions. The justices said that a lower federal court was wrong to set aside the change as discriminatory. Kennedy said voters chose to eliminate racial preferences because they deemed them unwise. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) (3 Oct 2013)

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APPHOTO WX102: FILE - This Sept. 19, 2013 file photo shows Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaking at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions. The justices said in a 6-2 ruling that Michigan voters had the right to change their state constitution to prohibit public colleges and universities from taking account of race in admissions decisions. The justices said that a lower federal court was wrong to set aside the change as discriminatory. In dissent, Sotomayor said the decision tramples on the rights of minorities, even though the amendment was adopted democratically. "But without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups," said Sotomayor, who read her dissent aloud in the courtroom Tuesday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (19 Sep 2013)

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