Sunday, December 8, 2013

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case brief

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case brief summary
438 U.S. 265 (1978)

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to the Supreme Court of California to decide whether petitioner medical school's special admissions program violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and § 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000d, and whether respondent was entitled to an injunction ordering his admission.


  • The Court reversed in part and affirmed in part a judgment declaring a special admissions program unlawful, enjoining petitioner medical school from considering the race of any applicant, and denying respondent an injunction ordering his admission. 
  • The Court found that the admissions program involved the unlawful use of an explicit racial classification, thereby disregarding individual rights as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. 
  • Respondent was entitled to a showing that the classification was necessary to promote a substantial state interest because the admissions program hinged on race, an inherently suspect distinction. 
  • Petitioner failed to show that the classification was necessary to its goals. 
  • Nevertheless, petitioner had a substantial interest that legitimately could be served by the competitive consideration of race. 
  • Race could be deemed a "plus," yet not insulate the applicant from comparison with all other candidates for the available seats. 
  • Petitioner also failed to show that, but for the existence of its unlawful special admissions program, respondent would not have been admitted. 
  • Therefore, respondent was entitled to the injunction ordering his admission.

The Court affirmed the holding that petitioner's special admissions program was unlawful and the order that respondent be admitted to the medical school. The Court reversed that part of the judgment enjoining petitioner from any consideration of race in its admissions process. Race could be considered in admissions if it was factored in with other characteristics in a competitive process.

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