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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

President to President: Fiscal Cliff Talks Continue, Michigan Court Strikes Down Ban on Considering Race in College Admissions

Vol. 13, No. 33

  • Fiscal Cliff Talks Continue; Post-Election Webinar Archive Now Available
  • Appeals Court Strikes Down Michigan Ban on Considering Race in College Admissions
  • Supreme Court to Hear Ball State Case on Monday

Before we begin the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to update you on negotiations to head off the array of tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff."

Currently, the prevailing mood in Washington on a potential deal seems to be cautious optimism. President Obama met with congressional leaders on Friday before leaving for a brief trip to Southeast Asia, and attendees at the meeting declared the talks productive. However, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said Republicans can accept new revenues but not tax-rate hikes as part of the deal, and the president maintains it is unlikely eliminating loopholes and capping deductions alone will work.

Negotiators will continue to work over the holiday, so we might know more as early as next week. Meanwhile, ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle presented a webinar last week on what the 2012 elections mean for higher education, which included a detailed discussion of the fiscal cliff and its potential effects on education funding. An archive of his presentation is available here.

As we await the Supreme Court's decision on the University of Texas's admissions policy, there was interesting news from Michigan late last week: A federal appeals court struck down the state's six-year ban on considering race in college admissions, a ruling that the state attorney general intends to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-7 that the ban, which was passed in a 2006 referendum, violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection guarantee in the 14th Amendment. Michigan voters approved the ban after the U.S. Supreme Court 2003 ruling in the Gratz and Grutter cases, which said that diversity in higher education is a compelling governmental interest and universities could use race as a factor in admissions decisions when conducting a holistic review.

If the Supreme Court decides to consider the case, the ruling could affect similar policies in other states. We will be watching it closely.

Lastly this week, a reminder that the Supreme Court will hear the case Vance v. Ball State University (IN) on Monday, Nov. 26.

ACE and a coalition of higher education groups have submitted an amicus brief in support of Ball State in the case, which could decide who can be considered a "job supervisor" in a federal workplace discrimination lawsuit. I will have details on the arguments next week.

My very best wishes to all of you for a happy and restful Thanksgiving.  

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE