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Grutter v. Bollinger

539 U.S. 306 (2003)

tl;dr: Reaffirmed Bakke: Race-plus school admissions schemes are not prohibited by equal protection.

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The case of Grutter v. Bollinger et al. involved a challenge to the University of Michigan Law School's use of race as a factor in student admissions. The Law School seeks to admit a diverse group of students with varying backgrounds and experiences who are capable of succeeding in law school and contributing to the well-being of others. The admissions policy focuses on academic ability and a flexible assessment of applicants' talents, experiences, and potential to contribute to the diversity of the Law School. Undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores are considered as predictors of academic success, but no applicant is admitted unless they are expected to graduate without serious academic problems. The Law School adopted a written admissions policy in 1992 to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling on the use of race in university admissions in the Bakke case. The University of Michigan Law School's admissions policy considers various factors beyond test scores and grades, including "soft" variables such as essays and recommendations, to assess an applicant's potential contributions to the institution. The policy aims to achieve diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, to enrich everyone's education and make the class stronger. However, the policy is not insensitive to competition among all students. Barbara Grutter, a white Michigan resident, filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of race after being waitlisted and then rejected from the Law School in 1996.

Barbara Grutter sued the University of Michigan Law School for alleged discrimination in their admissions policy. The Supreme Court held that the Law School's use of race in admissions is allowed under the Equal Protection Clause if it is narrowly tailored and serves a compelling interest in achieving a diverse student body. Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas partially concur and partially dissent from the opinion, arguing that the University of Michigan Law School's "critical mass" justification for discrimination by race is a sham and that the state's interest in maintaining a prestigious law school does not justify discriminatory admissions practices. The author and Chief Justice Rehnquist, along with Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, also dissents from the Court's opinion, arguing that preferences based on racial or ethnic criteria must undergo a rigorous examination and be shown to fit a compelling state interest with greater precision than any alternative means.

The court upholds the University of Michigan Law School's admissions program despite flaws that violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Justice Kennedy dissents, arguing that the program risks compromising individual assessment and does not comply with Justice Powell's opinion in Bakke. The Law School's use of daily reports to track the racial composition of the incoming class suggests that individual review was not given further consideration beyond race. The author believes that using programs similar to quotas in university admissions will perpetuate hostilities and undermine the purpose of considering race. The Constitution does not allow classification based on race without judicial review. The author approves of considering race in this context but must dissent in this case.

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IRACIssue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion

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Facts & Holding

Facts:The University of Michigan Law School followed an unofficial policy...

Holding:All racial classifications imposed by government must be analyzed under...

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Grutter v. Bollinger

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