UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTINSyllabusunder the Fourteenth Amendment,” 438 U. S., at 287, using a strictscrutiny standard,
, at 299. He identified as a compelling interestthat could justify the consideration of race the interest in the educa-tional benefits that flow from a diverse student body, but noted thatthis interest is complex, encompassing a broad array “of qualifica-tions and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a sin-gle though important element.”
the Court endorsed these precepts, observingthat an admissions process with such an interest is subject to judicialreview and must withstand strict scrutiny,
, at 275,
a university must clearly demonstrate that its “ ‘purpose or interest isboth constitutionally permissible and substantial, and that its use of the classification is “necessary . . . to the accomplishment” of its pur-pose,’ ”
at 305. Additional guidance may be found inthe Court’s broader equal protection jurisprudence. See,
, 528 U. S. 495, 517;
J. A. Croson Co.
, 488 U. S.469, 505. Strict scrutiny is a searching examination, and the gov-ernment bears the burden to prove “ ‘that the reasons for any [racial]classification [are] clearly identified and unquestionably legitimate.’ ”
Pp. 5–8.(b) Under
strict scrutiny must be applied to any admis-sions program using racial categories or classifications. A court maygive some deference to a university’s “judgment that such diversity isessential to its educational mission,” 539 U. S., at 328, provided thatdiversity is not defined as mere racial balancing and there is a rea-soned, principled explanation for the academic decision. On thispoint, the courts below were correct in finding that
calls fordeference to the University’s experience and expertise about its edu-cational mission. However, once the University has established thatits goal of diversity is consistent with strict scrutiny, the Universitymust prove that the means it chose to attain that diversity are nar-rowly tailored to its goal. On this point, the University receives nodeference.
at 333. It is at all times the University’s obligation todemonstrate, and the Judiciary’s obligation to determine, that admis-sions processes “ensure that each applicant is evaluated as an indi-vidual and not in a way that makes an applicant’s race or ethnicitythe defining feature of his or her application.”
at 337. Narrowtailoring also requires a reviewing court to verify that it is “neces-sary” for the university to use race to achieve the educational benefitsof diversity.
at 305. The reviewing court must ulti-mately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives wouldproduce the educational benefits of diversity.Rather than perform this searching examination, the Fifth Circuitheld petitioner could challenge only whether the University’s decision