"The new case is significantly broader," Lyle Denniston says.
ADDED: Here's a report on the 6th Circuit decision from last November. I don't think it's actually surprising that the Supreme Court took this case.
In an 8-7 decision, the court said the 2006 amendment to the Michigan Constitution is illegal because it presents an extraordinary burden to opponents who would have to mount their own long, expensive campaign through the ballot box to protect affirmative action....This issue is about the political process for adopting a policy when it is within the range of what can be done through majoritarian decisionmaking — not about whether affirmative action is beyond majoritarian decisionmaking. So I don't agree that this case is "significantly broader" than the University of Texas case. Both cases could be resolved with a big decision prohibiting affirmative action, but both present narrow questions. The Court's taking this new case doesn't mean something big is necessarily brewing, so I retract my "This is huge." I think the UT case could be huge, but taking this additional case doesn't add much reason to suspect that it will be.
The court said having supporters and opponents debate affirmative action through the governing boards of each public university would be much fairer than cementing a ban in the constitution, which it referred to as home of "the highest level" of public policy.