Regents V. Bakke

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Dawn Slavinski 1/3/05 Constitutional Law Supreme Court Case Write-Up

Case: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1976)

Source: Internet


Did the University of California violate the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, by practicing an affirmative action policy that resulted in the repeated rejection of Bakke's application for admission to its medical school?


Allan Bakke, a thirty-eight year old white engineer, was twice denied admission to the medical school at the University of California at Davis. To ensure minority representation in the student body, the university has set aside sixteen seats for minority applicants (out of one hundred students), as part of the university's affirmative action program, in an effort to redress longstanding, unfair minority exclusions from the medical profession. Challenging the set-aside as a violation of his constitutional right to equal protection of the laws, Bakke contended that he would have been admitted has it not been for this rigid preference system. In each year his application was rejected, the school has accepted some minority applicants with qualifications (GPA and test scores) inferior to Bakke's.

Court's Opinion:

Handed down on June 28 1978, the decision of the Court was announced by Justice Lewis Powell. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that race could be one, but only one, of numerous factors used by discriminatory boards, like those of college admissions. Powell found that quotas insulated minority applicants from competition with the regular applicants and were thus unconstitutional because they discriminated against regular applicants. Powell however...
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