Friday, November 15, 2013

United States v. Virginia case brief

United States v. Virginia case brief summary
518 U.S. 515 (1996)

Appeal by United States from judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit holding for Virginia in suit challenging policy denying women admission to publicly funded university.

The United States sued Virginia for violating the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Constitutional amendment XIV owing to Virginia's policy of denying women admission to a publicly funded university.

  • The Supreme Court, reviewing the decision of the federal appeals court, held for the United States. 
  • The court opined that in cases of official classification based on gender, 
  • 1. the proffered justification must be exceedingly persuasive; 
  • 2. that the burden of justification was demanding and rested entirely on the state; 
  • 3. that the state must show at least that the challenged classification served important governmental objectives and
  • 4. that the discriminatory means employed were substantially related to the achievement of those objectives;
  • 5. that the justification was genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation; and 
  • 6. that it did not rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females. 
  • Since Virginia failed to satisfy the burden placed upon, the judgment below was reversed.


Judgment reversed; Virginia failed to satisfy its burden of providing an exceedingly persuasive justification for its sex-based admissions policy or that the policy was substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.

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