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TITLE AND CITATION:Grutter v. Bollinger, 123 S. Ct. 2325 (June 2003)
TYPE OF ACTION:
The United States Supreme Court affirmed that the District Court of Appeals reviewed the case, reasoning that a University had a convincing interest in obtaining a diverse student population.
FACTS OF THE CASE: In December of 1996, Barbara Grutter, a white female mother, applied for admission to the University of Michigan Law School. At that era, the University of Michigan, a highly competitive and elite law school, received 3,500 applications for the available 350 student positions. Barbara Grutter applied with a 3.8-grade point average (GPA) and an LSAT score of 161, which is in the top 89%. The University of Michigan evaluates the applicants on many factors, including a personal essay, GPA, LSAT score, and the institute’s longstanding ethnic and racial diversity standards. The University of Michigan Law School stated that by utilizing race as a contributing factor in its decision process; furthermore, the University of Michigan Law School indicated that it would be accepting a ‘critical mass’ of underrepresented minority students. Barbara Grutter was ultimately wait-listed for a short period and subsequently rejected by the institution. Barbara Grutter sued the University of Michigan in federal district court, citing that the University racially discriminated against her and violated her Fourteenth Amendment. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 references using race to discriminate against her. Barbara went on to argue that the University used her ethnicity against her and gave applicants of African American and Hispanic descent a higher acceptance rate that had similar credentials.
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES:
Barbara Grutter argues that the University utilized the applicant’s race to discriminate against her, violating her Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, Barbara indicates that the school admissions process does not have a reparable claim to justify the process further. The University of Michigan admissions countered the argument indicating that the use of race is only used in deciding admissions. Admissions went on to state the process promotes diversity in the students admitted and wants a variety of students who come from different aspects of life.
ISSUE:Is utilizing an applicant’s race/ethnicity a necessary and convincing factor in the decision admission process when selecting of applicants for higher education?
The District Court ruled that the University utilizing an applicant’s race as a contributing factor was not a compelling argument. Furthermore, stating that using such a method of race is prohibited. The Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of the District Court, by the opinion of Justice Powell, citing University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)/ Subsequently, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the University board of admissions did not violate the Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Supreme Court Justice Powell cited California v. Bakke (1978) and stated his opinion that is that the institution using race is designed in the decision-making process. The additional ruling again cited Bakke as the admissions program had been identical to the admissions programs process, which had been ruled lawful in 1978. RULE OF LAW:
As Bakke, the United States Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the admissions process by initially ruling against the process quoting the use of a quota system. Justice Powell noted that using an individual’s race as one of many different components is lawful though stating that each candidate completes with all other qualified applicants.
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