Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 4 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 244 (2003)


of one of these minority groups. Moreover, unlike Justice Powell's example, where the race of a "particular black applicant" could be considered without being decisive, see id., at 317, the LSA's 20-point distribution has the effect of making "the factor of race . . . decisive" for virtually every minimally qualified underrepresented minority applicant, ibid. 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. The record does not reveal precisely how many applications are flagged, but it is undisputed that such consideration is the exception and not the rule in the LSA's program. Also, this individualized review is only provided after admissions counselors automatically distribute the University's version of a "plus" that makes race a decisive factor for virtually every minimally qualified under-represented minority applicant. The Court rejects respondents' contention that the volume of applications and the presentation of applicant information make it impractical for the LSA to use the admissions system upheld today in Grutter. The fact that the implementation of a program capable of providing individualized consideration might present administrative challenges does not render constitutional an otherwise problematic system. See, e. g., Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 488 U. S. 469, 508. Nothing in Justice Powell's Bakke opinion signaled that a university may employ whatever means it desires to achieve diversity without regard to the limits imposed by strict scrutiny. Pp. 268-275.

3. Because the University's use of race in its current freshman admissions policy violates the Equal Protection Clause, it also violates Title VI and 1981. See, e. g., Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U. S. 275, 281; General Building Contractors Assn. v. Pennsylvania, 458 U. S. 375, 389-390. Accordingly, the Court reverses that portion of the District Court's decision granting respondents summary judgment with respect to liability. Pp. 275-276.

Reversed in part and remanded.

Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. O'Connor, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Breyer, J., joined in part, post, p. 276. Thomas, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 281. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 281. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Souter, J., joined, post, p. 282. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg, J., joined as to Part II, post, p. 291. Ginsburg, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Souter, J., joined, and in which Breyer, J., joined as to Part I, post, p. 298.


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