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Backers of affirmative action bans say ruling out race, gender and ethnicity criteria guarantees that all applicants are treated fairly and not discriminated against.

The issue has led to protracted legal battles in several states.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court said the University of Michigan Law School could consider race in admissions decisions to promote campus diversity.

That decision led to a three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning Michigan’s affirmative action ban last year. The full appellate court, however, has agreed to reconsider the case.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear another case against the University of Texas, alleging that use of affirmative action is discriminatory. If the court decides against the university, the ruling could definitively end consideration of race in public university admissions.