Kristen Barnes


This Article examines issues of inequality in education, minority representation, and access to the political process. The Article considers constitutional protections and other legal mechanisms available to racial minorities to nullify or circumnavigate majoritarian voter initiatives that seek to override federal constitutional guarantees and United States Supreme Court holdings on the validity of the use of race in university admissions decisions. Voter initiatives have been used to undermine the socio-economic and political interests of vulnerable communities. In the education realm, affirmative action opponents are increasingly adopting this instrument to defeat race-conscious admissions policies. This Article focuses on several seminal cases involving the political process doctrine, including the Court’s most recent decision, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. In Schuette, the Court held that the amendment to Michigan’s Constitution, which prohibits governmental entities from utilizing race-conscious policies, is valid under the Equal Protection Clause. In so holding, the Court failed to adequately address the argument that the amendment leaves some minorities without meaningful access to the political process. This Article proposes recommendations for ensuring that the rights of minorities are adequately represented.