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Grutter v. Bollinger

Supreme Court of the United States

April 1, 2003, Argued ; June 23, 2003, Decided

No. 02-241

Opinion

 [*311]  [**2331]  Justice O'Connor delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case requires us to decide whether the use of race as a factor in student admissions by the University of Michigan Law School (Law School) is unlawful.

 [*312]  I

The Law School ranks among the Nation's top law schools. It receives more than 3,500 applications each year for a class  [*313]  of around 350 students. Seeking to "admit a group of students who individually and collectively are among the most capable," the Law School looks for individuals with "substantial  [*314]  promise for [****13]  success in law school" and "a strong likelihood of succeeding in the practice of law and contributing in diverse ways to the well-being of others." App. 110.  More broadly, the Law School seeks "a mix of students with varying backgrounds and experiences who will respect and learn from each other." Ibid. In 1992, the dean of the Law School charged a faculty committee with crafting a written admissions policy to implement these goals. In particular, the Law School sought to ensure that its efforts to achieve student body diversity complied with this Court's most recent ruling on the use of race in university admissions. See Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 57 L. Ed. 2d 750, 98 S. Ct. 2733 (1978).  [*315]  Upon the unanimous adoption of the committee's report by the Law School faculty, it became the Law School's official admissions policy.

The hallmark of that policy is its focus on academic ability coupled with a flexible assessment of applicants' talents, experiences, and potential "to contribute to the learning of those around them." App. 111. The policy requires admissions officials to evaluate each applicant based on all the information available [****14]  in the file, including a personal statement, letters of recommendation,  [**2332]  and an essay describing the ways in which the applicant will contribute to the life and diversity of the  [***324]  Law School. Id., at 83-84, 114-121. In reviewing an applicant's file, admissions officials must consider the applicant's undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score because they are important (if imperfect) predictors of academic success in law school. Id., at 112. The policy stresses that "no applicant should be admitted unless we expect that applicant to do well enough to graduate with no serious academic problems." Id., at 111.

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539 U.S. 306 *; 123 S. Ct. 2325 **; 156 L. Ed. 2d 304 ***; 2003 U.S. LEXIS 4800 ****; 71 U.S.L.W. 4498; 91 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1761; 84 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P41,415; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 5378; 16 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 367

BARBARA GRUTTER, Petitioner v. LEE BOLLINGER et al.

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court rehearing denied by Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 982, 156 L. Ed. 2d 694, 124 S. Ct. 35, 2003 U.S. LEXIS 5357 (U.S., 2003)

Prior History: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

Grutter v. Bollinger, 288 F.3d 732, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 9126 (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Mich., 2002)

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

law school, diversity, the Law, racial discrimination, student body, critical mass, minority student, educational benefit, score, underrepresented, strict scrutiny, deference, ethnic, compelling state interest, race-conscious, enrolled, elite, minority group, race-neutral, numbers, narrowly tailored, quota, compelling interest, programs, training, higher education, classifications, policies, mission, decisions

Constitutional Law, Equal Protection, Nature & Scope of Protection, Education Law, Discrimination in Schools, Racial Discrimination, Admission & Recruitment, Equal Protection, National Origin & Race, General Overview, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Students, Freedom of Speech, Parentage, Labor & Employment Law, Affirmative Action, Discrimination, Business & Corporate Compliance, Protection of Rights, Federally Assisted Programs, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Law, Contractual Relations & Housing, Equal Rights Under the Law (sec. 1981), Protected Classes, Scope, Substantive Due Process, Civil Liability, Civil Rights Act of 1866, Full & Equal Benefit