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Grutter v. Bollinger

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Brief Fact Summary.

Two district courts denied proposed intervenors’ motions to intervene in two lawsuits brought by Plaintiffs, who had been denied admissions to the defendant University’s undergraduate programs and its law school. The proposed intervenors were students of various races at various stages of education and pro-affirmative action organizations. The Plaintiffs’ action challenged the University’s race conscious admissions policy. The proposed intervenors appealed from the orders denying their motions for intervention.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

In the Sixth Circuit, to be entitled to intervention as of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a), proposed intervenors must show:

  • that their motion to intervene was timely
  • that they had a substantial legal interest in the subject matter of the case
  • that their interest might be impaired in the absence of intervention
  • that the parties already before the court may not adequately represent their interest.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

To satisfy this element of the intervention test, a would-be intervenor must show only that impairment of its substantial legal interest is possible if intervention is denied.

View Full Point of Law

Plaintiffs in separate district court actions, who had been denied admissions to the University’s undergraduate programs and its law school, brought lawsuits challenging the University of Michigan’s race conscious admissions policy, alleging that the policy denied their equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Pro-affirmative action coalitions, along with African American and Latino students at varied stages in their education, as well as undergraduate students who planned to apply for admission to the University of Michigan law school , sought to intervene in the lawsuits as of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a). The district court denied the motions for intervention, and the proposed intervenors appealed.


Did the district court err in denying the proposed intervenors motions to intervene as of right?


Yes. The proposed intervenors were entitled to intervention as of right under Rule 24(a); the district court’s orders denying intervention were reversed.


The proposed intervenors established that:

  • they had a substantial interest in the subject matter of the litigation
  • their interest would be impaired by an adverse determination
  • the existing defendant would not adequately represent their interests.

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