Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said, 'We are going to require equal treatment.' (Steve Perez / AP)
Days before Michigan’s law banning the consideration of race in college admissions will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, Michigan’s chief attorney evoked the words of Chief Justice John Roberts.
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Wednesday.
Schuette quoted Roberts, regarded as the swing vote, while speaking to the media about the case that will put Michigan and affirmative action before the nation’s highest court Tuesday for the second time in a decade.
The case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, challenges the state’s 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment that bans the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions. Though voters also approved a ban on affirmative action in government hiring and contracting, that is not part of the challenge the Supreme Court will hear.
Last year, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional, saying it undermines the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. Four months later, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the federal court ruling.
Schuette said he is confident the case will be argued next week in spite of the federal government shutdown. He also is certain the justices will issue a ruling that will uphold the law that 58 percent of Michigan voters approved.
“It is fundamentally wrong to treat people differently on the basis of your race or the color of your skin,” Schuette said. “We are saying no, we are not going to permit that. We are going to require equal treatment.”
But George Washington, attorney for the pro-affirmative action group that is fighting to have the ban struck down, said Schuette’s arguments have nothing to do with equality.
“He is not defending equality,” Washington said. “He is defending privilege.”