August 21, 2014 · 25 Av

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Reform Movement Responds to Key Affirmative Action Case


Rabbi Saperstein: "As the Jewish people have historically known the injustice of discrimination and the way in which its effects linger long after the discriminatory acts themselves, we know that efforts to diminish diversity, no matter what form they take, are of great concern."

Contact: Sean Thibault or Charlie Arnowitz
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2014 - Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the latest affirmative action-related case to appear before the Court. In response to the ruling, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

"We are disappointed by the Supreme Court decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. In 2006, Michigan voters approved Proposal 2, an amendment to the state constitution that prohibited sex- and race-based preferences in higher education admissions and other areas. Since the amendment was passed, African American enrollment in Michigan universities declined by 33%, and Latino enrollment declined by 10%.

"In its ruling, the court's plurality determined that the referendum was constitutional, based on the notion that there was no precedent for courts to overturn state laws 'that commit this policy determination to the voters.' In fact, the decision deprives racial and ethnic minorities in Michigan equal opportunity to participate in the political process. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, 'Without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups.' The court's decision not only burdens racial and ethnic minorities in Michigan, but may also encourage other states to consider similarly discriminatory referenda.

"In a growingly diverse society, the need to ensure diverse representation in our schools and workplaces is more vital than ever. As the Jewish people have historically known the injustice of discrimination and the way in which its effects linger long after the discriminatory acts themselves, we know that efforts to diminish diversity, no matter what form they take, are of great concern. For this reason, we were pleased to join with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in an amicus brief to the Court supporting the decision of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had held that the ballot initiative was in violation of the Constitution's equal protection clause. In the wake of the court's ruling, we remain committed to ensuring the rights and access to opportunity for all are protected."

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.3 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.



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