Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 15 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

The District Court began its analysis by reviewing this Court's decision in Bakke. See 122 F. Supp. 2d 811, 817 (ED Mich. 2000). Although the court acknowledged that no decision from this Court since Bakke has explicitly accepted the diversity rationale discussed by Justice Powell, see 122 F. Supp. 2d, at 820-821, it also concluded that this Court had not, in the years since Bakke, ruled out such a justification for the use of race, 122 F. Supp. 2d, at 820-821. The District Court concluded that respondents and their amici curiae had presented "solid evidence" that a racially and ethnically diverse student body produces significant educational benefits such that achieving such a student body constitutes a compelling governmental interest. See id., at 822-824.

The court next considered whether the LSA's admissions guidelines were narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. See id., at 824. Again relying on Justice Powell's opinion in Bakke, the District Court determined that the admissions program the LSA began using in 1999 is a narrowly tailored means of achieving the University's interest in the educational benefits that flow from a racially and ethnically diverse student body. See 122 F. Supp. 2d, at 827. The court emphasized that the LSA's current program does not utilize rigid quotas or seek to admit a predetermined number of minority students. See ibid. The award of 20 points for membership in an underrepresented minority group, in the District Court's view, was not the functional equivalent of a quota because minority candidates were not insulated from review by virtue of those points. See id., at 828. Likewise, the court rejected the assertion that the LSA's program operates like the two-track system Justice Powell found objectionable in Bakke on the grounds that LSA applicants are not competing for different groups of seats. See 122 F. Supp. 2d, at 828-829. The court also dismissed petitioners' assertion that the LSA's current system is nothing more than a means by which to achieve racial balancing. See id., at 831. The court explained that the LSA does not seek to

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