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Grutter v.

Bollinger
TOPIC: EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE
PONENTE:
Justice
Sandra
Day
O'Connor
1. The University of Michigan Law School, follows an official admissions policy that seeks to achieve
student body diversity through compliance with Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U. S. 265.
2. The policy does not define diversity solely in terms of racial and ethnic status and does not
restrict the types of diversity contributions eligible for "substantial weight," but it does reaffirm the
Law School's commitment to diversity with special reference to the inclusion of African-American,
Hispanic, and Native-American students, who otherwise might not be represented in the student
body in meaningful numbers.
3. By enrolling a "critical mass" of underrepresented minority students, the policy seeks to ensure
their ability to contribute to the Law School's character and to the legal profession.
4. When the Law School denied admission to petitioner Grutter, a white Michigan resident with a 3.8
GPA and 161 LSAT score, she filed this suit.
5. She alleged that respondents had discriminated against her on the basis of race in violation of
the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U. S. C.
§1981.
6. Contending even that she was rejected because the Law School uses race as a "predominant"
factor, giving applicants belonging to certain minority groups a significantly greater chance of
admission than students with similar credentials from disfavored racial groups; and that
respondents had no compelling interest to justify that use of race.
7. The District Court found the Law School's use of race as an admissions factor unlawful.
8. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that Justice Powell's opinion in Bakke was binding precedent
establishing diversity as a compelling state interest, and that the Law School's use of race was
narrowly tailored because race was merely a "potential 'plus' factor" and because the Law School's
program was virtually identical to the Harvard admissions program described approvingly by Justice
Powell and appended to his Bakke opinion.
9. The University argued that there was a compelling state interest to ensure a "critical mass" of
students from minority groups, particularly African Americans and Hispanics, which is realized
within the student body. They argued that this aims to "ensure that these minority
students do not feel isolated or like spokespersons for their race; to provide adequate
opportunities for the type of interaction upon which the educational benefits of
diversity depend; and to challenge all students to think critically and reexamine
stereotypes."
ISSUE: WON the policy violated the 14th amendment?
HELD: NO, University of Michigan Law School admissions program that gave special consideration for
being a certain racial minority did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment.
RATIO:
1. The decision largely upheld the position asserted in Justice Powell's concurrence in Regents of the
University of California v. Bakke, which allowed race to be a consideration in admissions
policy, but held that quotas were illegal.
2. The Court's majority ruling held that the United States Constitution "does not prohibit the law
school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in
obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."
3. The Court held that the law school's interest in obtaining a "critical mass" of minority students was
indeed a "tailored use".
4. Law School defines its critical mass concept by reference to the substantial, important,
and laudable educational benefits that diversity is designed to produce, including crossracial understanding and the breaking down of racial stereotypes.
5. To be narrowly tailored, a race-conscious admissions program cannot "insulate each category of
applicants with certain desired qualifications from competition with all other applicants."
6. Instead, it may consider race or ethnicity only as a " 'plus' in a particular applicant's file"; i.e.,
it must be "flexible enough to consider all pertinent elements of diversity in light of the particular
qualifications of each applicant, and to place them on the same footing for consideration, although
not necessarily according them the same weight,".
7. It follows that universities cannot establish quotas for members of certain racial or
ethnic groups or put them on separate admissions tracks.
8. The Law School's admissions program, like the Harvard plan approved by Justice Powell, satisfies
these requirements. Moreover, the program is flexible enough to ensure that each applicant is
evaluated as an individual and not in a way that makes race or ethnicity the defining feature of the

265 (1978). 3. Petitioners Gratz and Hamacher. Respondents contended that the LSA has just such an interest in the educational benefits that result from having a racially and ethnically diverse student body and that its program is narrowly tailored to serve that interest 7. The fact that the LSA has created the possibility of an applicant's file being flagged for individualized consideration only emphasizes the flaws of the University's system as a whole when compared to that described by Justice Powell. Gratz v Bollinger TOPIC:: EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE PONENTE 1. The Court held that the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violates both the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI. During all relevant periods. RATIO: 1. Science and the Arts with an adjusted GPA of 3. the Court reasoned that the automatic distribution of 20 points. Jennifer Gratz applied to the University of Michigan's College of Literature. ISSUE: WON admission policy violated the 14th Amendment HELD: Yes. 6.application. the University has considered African-Americans.. decisive" for virtually every minimally qualified underrepresented minority applicant. The current guidelines use a selection method under which every applicant from an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority group is automatically awarded 20 points of the 100 needed to guarantee admission.0. petitioner's statutory claims based on Title VI and §1981 also fail. A state university's admission policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because its ranking system gave an automatic point increase to all racial minorities rather than making individual determinations. The District Court held that the admissions policies for years 1995-1998 were not narrowly tailored. both were denied admission. While rejecting the argument that diversity cannot constitute a compelling state interest. Bakke. 4. In 1995. and an ACT score of 28 2. Because the Law School's use of race in admissions decisions is not prohibited by Equal Protection Clause. to every single "underrepresented minority" applicant solely because of race was not narrowly tailored and did not provide the individualized consideration Justice Powell contemplated in Regents of the University of California v. 3. In 1997. both of whom are Michigan residents and Caucasian. Hispanics.S. but that the policies in effect in 1999 and 2000 were narrowly tailored. The LSA's 20-point distribution has the effect of making "the factor of race . Patrick Hamacher applied to the University with an adjusted GPA of 3. 9. . Petitioners filed this class action alleging that the University's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 2. 438 U." and it is undisputed that the University admits virtually every qualified applicant from these groups. 5.. applied for admission and Although the LSA considered Gratz to be well qualified and Hamacher to be within the qualified range. and Native Americans to be "underrepresented minorities.8 and ACT score of 25. or one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission.