Gratz V. Bollinger

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  • Topic: Sandra Day O'Connor, Grutter v. Bollinger, Gratz v. Bollinger
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Gratz v. Bollinger
539 U.S. 244 (2003)

Facts of the Case
Jennifer Gratz, a student with a 3.8 GPA and ACT score of 25, applied to the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and Arts (LSA) in 1995. Patrick Hamacher, a student with an adjusted GPA of 3.0 and an ACT score of 28, also applied to the School in 1997. They were both denied admission and had to study elsewhere (Oyez, 2003). The University of Michigan’s the LSA used a 150-point scale to rank applicants, with 100 points needed to guarantee admission. The University gave underrepresented ethnic groups, including African- Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, an automatic 20-point bonus on this scale, while a perfect SAT score was worth only 12 points. Gratz and Hamacher were contacted by the Center for Individual Rights, and filed lawsuit on their behalf in 1997 (Perry 2007). The case was filed against University of Michigan, The LSA, James Dunderstadt and Lee Bollinger. Dunderstadt was the University’s President when Gratz was denied admission and Bollinger when Hamacher was denied admissions. The class-action lawsuit alleged, “ violations and threatened violations of the rights of the plaintiffs, and the class they represent to equal protection of the laws under the fourteenth amendment and for racial discrimination’ (Perry, 2007).

Court Decision
In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the court held that the University of Michigan’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admission violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil rights Act of 1964.

Majority Opinion
While rejecting the argument that diversity cannot constitute a compelling state interest, the court reasoned that the automatic distribution of 20 points, or one-fifth of the points needed to secure admission, to every single ‘underrepresented minority’ applicant solely because of race was not narrowly tailored and did not...
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