Constitutional Law & Public Policy
4 December 2012
Grutter v. Bollinger
Without the amendments to the Constitution, minorities would lack proper protection of their rights to live a life of liberty. It took adding an amendment to partially abolish slavery and another one to give rights to those descending from the slaves. The historical significance of discrimination has lingered into all facets of life for those supremely affected by it. For the population unaffected by discrimination, namely those of European descent, such laws as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Affirmative Action are seen as unjust and prejudicial. The law should uphold using favorable racial requirements for minorities as long as it does not undermine the nonminority population. Issue
Does the University of Michigan Law School’s use of racial preferences in student admissions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Rule and Analysis
The opinion of the court was delivered by Justice O’Connor in which she affirms the school’s use of racial preference in its admissions decisions. The GPA and LSAT score of an applicant does not outright admit or deny them entry into the law school. The use of “soft variables” such as enthusiasm of recommenders, the quality of the undergraduate admission, the quality of the applicant’s essay, and the areas and difficulty of undergraduate course selection bears in assessing an “applicants likely contributions to the intellectual and social life of the institution” (“Grutter v. Bollinger” 316).
The underrepresentation of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans in college due to the historical discrimination against them is delineated by the admissions policy of Michigan Law School. Justice Thomas’s opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, “the use of race for the attainment of a diverse student body”, has set a legal precedence. While the school may use race as a factor in its admissions process, a student’s admission or denial of one it is not automatically or solely based on race. Justice O’Connor wrote, “In summary, the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body” (343). Judicial Count
5 votes for Bollinger (Justices Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer), 4 votes against (Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas). Effect on History of Case
The American Council on Education provides a summation that after the ruling of Grutter v Bollinger, many states enacted laws to address race-conscious admissions policies. There are a few states that continue to deny incorporating race as a factor in their admissions policies, while others have reconsidered adding it in their process. This issue segways into financial aid programs that use race and ethnicity to award special financial adjustments for minorities. “The Office for Civil Rights policy guidance also permits consideration of race and ethnicity in financial aid to remedy past discrimination by the institution” ( “ACE Division of Government Relations and Public Affairs” 6).
In the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, the use of race as a factor in the University’s admissions policy is being contested by an applicant who was denied admission. The applicant expressed that she felt as though she was discriminated against brought a suit against the University. The precedence established by the analysis of the verdict in Grutter v. Bollinger which once again remain consistent in this case. “The university said in court papers that Fisher would not have been admitted even without a racial preferences program” (Sherman). The verdict is most likely going to mimic the one received in Grutter v. Bollinger because the policy does not solely use race as a...