Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 26 (2003)

Page:   Index   Previous  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  Next

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

Opinion of the Court

Petitioners alternatively argue that even if the University's interest in diversity can constitute a compelling state interest, the District Court erroneously concluded that the University's use of race in its current freshman admissions policy is narrowly tailored to achieve such an interest. Petitioners argue that the guidelines the University began using in 1999 do not "remotely resemble the kind of consideration of race and ethnicity that Justice Powell endorsed in Bakke." Brief for Petitioners 18. Respondents reply that the University's current admissions program is narrowly tailored and avoids the problems of the Medical School of the University of California at Davis program (U. C. Davis) rejected by Justice Powell.18 They claim that their program "hews closely" to both the admissions program described by Justice Powell as well as the Harvard College admissions program that he endorsed. Brief for Respondent Bollinger et al. 32. Specifically, respondents contend that the LSA's policy provides the individualized consideration that "Justice Powell considered a hallmark of a constitutionally appropriate admissions program." Id., at 35. For the reasons set out below, we do not agree.

18 U. C. Davis set aside 16 of the 100 seats available in its first year medical school program for "economically and/or educationally disadvantaged" applicants who were also members of designated "minority groups" as defined by the university. "To the extent that there existed a pool of at least minimally qualified minority applicants to fill the 16 special admissions seats, white applicants could compete only for 84 seats in the entering class, rather than the 100 open to minority applicants." Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U. S. 265, 274, 289 (1978) (principal opinion). Justice Powell found that the program employed an impermissible two-track system that "disregard[ed] . . . individual rights as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment." Id., at 320. He reached this conclusion even though the university argued that "the reservation of a specified number of seats in each class for individuals from the preferred ethnic groups" was "the only effective means of serving the interest of diversity." Id., at 315. Justice Powell concluded that such arguments misunderstood the very nature of the diversity he found to be compelling. See ibid.


Page:   Index   Previous  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007