Summary of Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003)
Facts: 2 White residents of MI applied to the U of M and were denied admission by the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions-OUA. The OUA Counselors used the schools guidelines in rendering the decisions. OUA relies on a number of factors, including race. Students representing racial minority groups are considered “underrepresented minorities" and OUA admits almost every qualified applicant from this classification. In 1995 and 96 applicants were subject to different admission outcomes based on race or ethnic status. Gratz’s racial and academic score placed her w/i a category calling for postponed decision, but a minority applicant w/ same academic score required admission. 1997 OUA changed policies where applicants rec’d points which disfavored Hammacher over a similarly situated racial minority. 1999-2000 underrepresented minorities were automatically awarded 20 out of 150 points, plus ARC review.
Issue(s): Whether the U of M’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admission violates the E P Cl of the 14th?
Holding: Yes, b/c the U’s use of race in its current freshman admission policy is not narrowly tailored to achieve respondent’s asserted compelling state interest in Diversity, the policy violates E P Cl of 14th as well as Title VI 42 U.S.C. 1981.
Procedure: On Cross Summ J, D Ct upheld OUA guidelines and granted Pet students motion regarding undergraduate admission program from 1995-1998; granted Resp motion re: program from 1999-2000. On Interlocutory Ct App, en banc, heard the case but did not issue decision yet. US S.Ct Reversed portion of decision upholding Respond’s Summary.
Rationale: The admission Policy has not individualized considerations when every minority applicant is given 1/5 of the total points required and non-minorities are not given the same amount. The only individualized consideration given is the factual review by ARC to determine whether an applicant is an underrepresented minority. An award of 20pt makes race a decisive factor.
PROBLEMS: An extremely talented artistic student would get 5 pt max; program is not consistent w/ Harvard’s selection process–not dependent on race, but associated with it. OUA doesn’t consider different backgrounds, experiences, and characteristics of students; and “Flagging" by ARC would never result in a non-minority with excellent academics being reviewed.
Pet’s A: 1) Court only sanctioned the use of racial classifications to remedy i/d discrimination, but Resp never based their case on that restricted use; 2) Diversity employing racial preferences is too open-ended, ill-defined, and indefinite to constitute a compelling state interest capable of supporting narrowly tailored means; and 3) Even if U’s interest is compelling, D Ct C: that the use of race is narrowly tailored is wrong b/c the guidelines do not resemble Bakke’s permissible use of race or ethnicity.
Resp’s A: U’s current admission program is narrowly tailored and avoid the problems U of C program that was rejected in Bakke–set aside pool of seats using numeric ratio based on race. Here, OUA relies on an individualized set of considerations for admission which is reviewed by ARC. The sheer volume of applications and the applicants’ information make it impractical for the school to use the system upheld in Grutter.