The respondent challenged the special admissions program of the petitioner, the Medical School of the University of California at Davis, which is designed to assure the admission of a specified number of students from certain minority groups.
In order to justify the use of a suspect classification, a State must show that its purpose or interest is both constitutionally permissible and substantial and that its use of the classification is necessary to the accomplishment of its purpose or the safeguarding of its interest.
The respondent challenged the special admissions program of the petitioner, the Medical School of the University of California at Davis, which is designed to assure the admission of a specified number of students from certain minority groups. The Superior Court of California sustained respondent’s challenge, holding that petitioner’s program violated the California Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. The Supreme Court of California affirmed the portions of the judgment declaring the special admissions program unlawful and enjoining petitioner from considering the race of any applicant.
Does the the special admissions program of the University of California at Davis that considers race of its applicants violate the Constitution?
Yes, the judgment of the California court as holds petitioner’s special admissions program unlawful and directs that respondent be admitted to the Medical School must be affirmed. But, the portion of the court’s judgment ordering petitioner from according no consideration to race in its admission process must be reversed.
The position of the Black today in America is the tragic but inevitable consequence of centuries of unequal treatment and meaningful equality remains a distant dream for the Black. A Black child have a shorter life expectancy that a white child. The median income of the Black family is only about 60% that of the median of a white family. A Black who completes four years of college can expect a median annual income of merely $110 more than a white male who has only a high school diploma.
There was no majority opinion in this case.
Blackmun: It is evident that the Davis special admissions program involves the use of an explicit racial classification never before countenanced by the Court. It tells applicants who are not Black, Asian, or Chicano that they are totally excluded from a specific percentage of the seats in an entering class. At the same time, the preferred applicants have the opportunity to compete for every seat in the class. This flaw in the petitioner’s preferential program disregards individual rights as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Brennan: The Court review under the Fourteenth Amendment should be strict because it is stigma that causes fatality. Davis’ articulated purpose of remedying the effects of past societal discrimination is sufficiently important to justify the use of race-conscious admissions programs where there is a sound basis for concluding that minority under-representation is substantial and chronic, and that the handicap of past discrimination is impeding access of minorities to the Medical School.