Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gratz v. Bollinger case brief

Gratz v. Bollinger case brief summary
539 U.S. 244 (2003)

Upon application for certiorari by the petitioner in a parallel case, petitioner undergraduate admission applicant requested certiorari to allow the cases to be heard together so that the United States Supreme Court could address the constitutionality of the consideration of race in university admissions in a wider range of circumstances. The Court granted certiorari.

The university's undergraduate admissions policy was based on a point system that automatically granted 20 points to applicants from underrepresented minority groups. This class-action equal protection suit against respondents, a university, a college, and university officials, alleged racial discrimination. The parties appealed the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan's rulings. The appellate court heard the case en banc on the same day as a parallel case concerning the university's law school admissions program, which it upheld.


  • Although the circuit court had not yet ruled in the instant case, the Supreme Court granted certiorari. 
  • The Court held as an initial matter that the lead plaintiff had standing, having been denied freshman admission and having the potential to be denied transfer admission. 
  • The Court also found that the policy made race the decisive factor for virtually every minimally qualified underrepresented minority applicant. 
  • As the policy was not narrowly tailored to achieve respondents' asserted compelling interest in diversity, it violated the Equal Protection Clause, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C.S. § 1981.

The Court reversed that portion of the district court's decision granting respondents summary judgment with respect to liability and remanded the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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