Stanford Law Review Online: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and the Forgotten Oath
The Stanford Law Review Online has just published an Note by David R. Friedman entitled Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and the Forgotten Oath. Mr. Friedman argues that:
[M]any of the Justices, especially Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg, seemed troubled by the implications of Michigan’s amendment for traditionally disadvantaged minorities. At the same time, several Justices seemed perplexed by the potentially wide scope of a doctrine that, in its most expansive form, subjects every law that moves a decision from one level of government to another to strict scrutiny. For instance, if Michigan’s constitutional amendment is subject to strict scrutiny, is Title VII subject to strict scrutiny? Is the Fair Housing Act? Is 42 U.S.C. § 1983? All three of these laws similarly move a decision involving race—the decision of how much governmental protection to provide against racial discrimination—from one level of government (the states) to another (the federal government). These types of potential consequences led to a great deal of time being consumed by questions looking to answer that classic legal question: where do we draw the line?!
The Michigan electorate should be required to pay now or pay later to prove that the laws of its state do not violate the Constitution. If it chooses to pursue a state constitutional amendment through direct initiative, it will trade the scrutiny of the legislative process, mediated by those who have taken an Article VI oath to uphold the Federal Constitution, for the burden of affirmatively proving that its measure is constitutional.!footnote_21 If it chooses instead to lobby its state legislature to propose a state constitutional amendment, it will face no such burden later in the process. Only by requiring this choice can we really be sure that “equal treatment” is actually the same as “equal protection” in this case.
Read the full article, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and the Forgotten Oath at the Stanford Law Review Online.