As the U.S. Supreme Court commenced oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas on Wednesday — a case that may have national implications on consideration of race in college admissions — University professors and experts say it may influence the court battle surrounding Michigan’s Proposal 2.

Proposal 2, an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting the state’s public universities from granting applicants preferential treatment on the basis of race that passed by popular vote in 2006, has been under consideration in the federal courts since last year. The case is currently under deliberation by the 15 judges of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the nation’s highest court opts to overrule the precedents at hand in Wednesday’s case — namely, Grutter v. Bollinger — the verdict could render Proposal 2 irrelevant, since the consideration of race in college admissions would be unconstitutional even without the statewide ban.

However, should the Supreme Court uphold, at least in some form, its verdict in Grutter v. Bollinger — an outcome University professors and most experts expect — that ruling could alter the course of the Court of Appeals’ determination of Proposal 2’s constitutionality.

If Grutter is upheld, the Court of Appeals might look more favorably on the role of affirmative action in college admissions, according to Law Prof. Mark Rosenbaum, who has argued in favor of the Proposal 2 case and affirmative action.

“If Grutter is not overruled, it’ll be a shot in the arm for our side,” Rosenbaum said.

In July 2011, opponents of Proposal 2 — most notably By Any Means Necessary, a pro-affirmative action group that brought the case to court — earned a victory when a panel of judges on the Court of Appeals ruled the amendment unconstitutional by a 2-1 vote. At the time, BAMN and its allies held a press conference on the steps of the Michigan Union to celebrate the victory.

However, three weeks later, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced an appeal of the decision for the court to review the case en banc — by the court’s 15 total judges. BAMN and Schuette are awaiting the verdict from the en banc hearing.

George Washington, a lawyer who argued the case for BAMN along with Rosenbaum, said he expects a verdict from the Court of Appeals in the next few months. While he noted that he is confident in a victory for affirmative action, he cautioned that the verdict may still not be the end of the fight over Proposal 2.

The Supreme Court may also decide to hear the Proposal 2 case, he said.

If that happens, Washington said precedent offered in Fisher v. University of Texas could guide the court’s judgment in a possible Proposal 2 case, adding the question would not be whether affirmative action is admissible, but whether a ban on affirmative action by state amendment is constitutional.

While the consensus seems to be that the Grutter v. Bollinger verdict will stand in some capacity, Washington said that is “not inevitable.”

“A lot will be determined,” Washington said, referring to the climate after the Supreme Court reaches its decision on Fisher v. Texas, which will be announced later this year.

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