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How did the affirmative action ban get to the Supreme Court?

Supreme Court upholds Michigan's affirmative action ban in college admissions. How did it get to this point?

In its latest ruling, the Supreme Court's decision on affirmative action says voters should have the right to decide if race should be taken into account in admissions to state universities and public colleges.

The 6-2 ruling upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action and effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states.

In the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy insisted the issue should only be decided in the ballot box, writing:

This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it.

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Associate Justice, Supreme Court

But in one of the longest, most emotional dissents of her career, Justice Sonia Sotomayor summarized her opinion from the bench, saying: “The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat, but neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” She continued to say that "..democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups."

The timeline above show the evolution of the affirmative action case that began in an admissions office at the University of Michigan and ended at the Supreme Court.

Was affirmative action, in the racial preference/positive discrimination sense, ever appropriate?

What practical implications does the removal of affirmative action have? How will this look in colleges?

If the court says racial preferences are unconstitutional, couldn't they also find that socioeconomic preferences are also unconstitutional?

We consulted a panel of experts for the Inside Story.

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