NASHVILLE -- On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans consideration of race in admissions to the state’s public universities. Hailing the decision, Sen. Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) promised to renew his efforts “to let merit alone decide.”
In 2014, Sen. Summerville introduced a far-ranging amendment to Tennessee’s Constitution that would have barred the State from engaging in either discrimination or preferences based on race, sex, or ethnicity. The administration of the University of Tennessee presented testimony against Sen. Summerville’s proposal. The measure failed by a vote of 4 to 2, with one abstention, which is one vote short of the 5 needed to move the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“If an applicant to a state college or university presents the academic qualifications for admission, that’s all there should be to it,” Summerville added. “Skin color should get no more consideration than eye color, both being absurd and irrelevant.”
According to the New York Times, “The 6-to-2 ruling in the Michigan case effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states. It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity.”
Sen. Summerville acknowledged that amending the State Constitution is a slow, deliberative process.
"That's what the authors of our fundamental law intended,” he said. “But I believe that if we can get my amendment to the people for a vote, they'll ratify it. There's no place for race in Tennessee law or Tennessee life."
Sen. Summerville represents the counties of Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, and Robertson in the 25th senatorial district.