From James Taranto:
Racial discrimination. Negroes then. Asians and Jews today.
"The University of Michigan announced Wednesday that it will comply with a new voter-approved ban on affirmative action and immediately stop considering race and gender in admissions," the Associated Press reports from Detroit. The university--whose undergraduate preferences the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional in 2003, while upholding another such scheme at the law school--will continue to litigate against the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, though. Also:
"The university said that it would use other criteria that are not explicitly race- or gender-based to achieve diversity. Those include geographic diversity, the level of education completed by students' parents, and whether students attended a disadvantaged school."
In the 1971 case of Griggs v. Duke Power Co., the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "proscribes not only overt discrimination but also practices that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation. . . . Good intent or absence of discriminatory intent does not redeem employment procedures or testing mechanisms that operate as 'built-in headwinds' for minority groups and are unrelated to measuring job capability."
Griggs involved employment law, not university admissions; and the Supreme Court has held that student-body "diversity" is a "compelling interest" that justifies some degree of outright discrimination. So Michigan would seem to be on solid legal ground--at least with respect to federal law--in using criteria that have disparate impact in order to operate as a "built-in tailwind" for minority groups. But it's interesting to watch them follow the same sort of tactics that were alleged to have been employed to perpetuate old-fashioned discrimination against minorities.
It never ends.