Playlist: Michigan

Ann C. Lin: Affirmative action and what the Schuette decision means for Michigan

May 5, 2014 0:02:05
Kaltura Video

Ann C. Lin is an associate professor of public policy at the Ford School. Her research focuses on immigration policies, such as guest worker programs and legalization, and the political beliefs of American immigrants.


The Schuette v. BAMN decision was about whether the elected board of regents should have the power to change admissions decisions at public universities at Michigan.
The lower courts had said that boards of regents who were elected to make decisions about university policy were the right people to make decisions about affirmative action. But the Supreme Court decided that citizens of Michigan, through the referendum process were able to say that they wanted universities to abide by matters of principle, no matter what else the universities thought were important.
When race or gender obscures talents, then organizations can't select the right people, and those organizations don't get the kind of talent that they would benefit from. So affirmative action doesn't really help the cause of racial justice as much as it helps those organizations who would have a lesser group of talent than they would otherwise have if they didn't use affirmative action.
Racial equality and affirmative action are different. One does not necessarily bring about the other, but that doesn't mean affirmative action isn't important. It's important for a specific and limited purpose: to create strong organizations that recruit the best people.
The Supreme Court's decision is the last word on Michigan's constitutional amendment. There won't be any other court cases, and University of Michigan and other Michigan universities will now not be able to use affirmative action as they have not been using it since the amendment was passed in 2006.