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Gratz v. Bollinger

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Admission criteria based on race must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling interest. Race may be considered in an individual assessment, but not as a sole or contributing factor for admission.

    Facts. The University of Michigan receives a high volume of applicants each year to its College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA). To help with admission decisions, the University implements a point system. This point system is out of 100 points. A student that is from an underrepresented group automatically receives 20 points towards his or her over all score. The groups of students typically come from African-American, Hispanic, and Native American backgrounds. A student with extraordinary artistic talent only receives 5 points under the admission system. Also every student that is from an underrepresented group, and is otherwise qualified, is typically accepted into the school. A group of white student’s, that were determined qualified by the University, where denied admission.

    Issue. Whether a School’s admission policy to automatically grant 20 out of 100 points to students of a minority ethnicity is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

    Held. Yes. Firstly, the Supreme Court has only upheld racial plans at a school or town where previous racial discrimination was being remedied. In previous cases, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court stated that each applicant should be individually assessed. Each student’s admission should be based on the student’s ability to contribute to the unique setting of higher education. An admission system that grants points for certain characteristics such as race is not an individual assessment. When applicants are being chosen for a program and part of the reasoning is based on race, any discrimination made is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Since the White students are being discriminated based on race, they are a suspect class which deserves strict scrutiny review. Unless the school can show the system is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling interest of diversity, the admission system will be considered unconstitutional. Here the system is not narrowly tailored. Simply

    Dissent. The previous school admission policies that were struck down made race sole reasons for denials or admission. Here the point system accounts for many things such residency, grades, essay, athletic ability, social-economic status. Surely the plan design is better fit than other plans to ensure diversity.

    Discussion. The School argues that with the volume of applications, a system with individual assessment will be impractical. However, this court states that just because it will be difficult to achieve such standards, it does not render their actions constitutional.


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