politics of the united states question The Law School Admissions Case
Barbara Grutter was a $49$-year-old white mother of two and resident of Michigan who ran her own consulting firm when she applied to the University of Michigan Law School in $1996$. She had a $3.8$ grade point average and scored in the $85$ th percentile on the law school admissions test but was not accepted. She sued the law school in federal court, arguing that the law school had discriminated against her because of her race and had denied her equal protection of the law. Grutter objected to the admissions policy, which gave applicants belonging to certain underrepresented racial groups a better chance of getting in than white students with the same credentials.
The University of Michigan Law School is highly competitive, admitting only $10$ percent of its applicants. Its admissions policy focuses on academic ability and a flexible assessment of the applicant's individual talents, experiences, and potential to contribute to law school life and diversity. Diversity is not defined solely in terms of race, but the policy does reaffirm the law school's commitment to achieving a critical mass of African American, Hispanic, and Native American students.
Barbara Grutter won her case before the federal court of appeals, and the university appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Undergraduate Admissions Case Jennifer Gratz, a white suburban resident of Michigan, applied for undergraduate admission to the University of Michigan in $1995$. Although she met the entrance standards of the university, she was denied admission. The admissions process used a scoring system due to the large number of applications, assigning points to applicants based on high school courses and grades, standardized test scores, a personal essay, geographic diversity, special talents (athletic, musical, etc.), whether the applicant was the child of an alumnus, leadership, and race. This system automatically awarded $20$ points toward the total $150$ (a score of $100$ was generally required for admission) to students from underrepresented racial groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Virtually every qualified applicant from these groups has been admitted under this scoring system. Gratz also sued the university in federal court, but lost. She appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court Decides the Two Cases Because the issues of diversity and affirmative action in higher education are so important and because federal courts of appeals had issued conflicting decisions, the Supreme Court granted certiorari and agreed to hear both Michigan cases in $2003$ . In analyzing both cases the justices agreed that racial discrimination was involved and that the Court had to apply strict judicial scrutiny. The state had to show a compelling governmental interest in the use of race and that race could be used to further that interest only if it did not unduly burden the disfavored groups. For example, a race-conscious admissions program cannot use a quota system that sets aside a certain number of places in the entering class for members from selected underrepresented racial groups, although race or ethnicity could be considered a "plus" in a particular applicant's file.
A majority of the justices agreed that student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify using race in university admissions.
In a $5$-to-$4$ opinion, the Court found that Michigan's law school admissions policy did not violate Barbara Grutter's rights. Having a critical mass (essential number) of students from underrepresented groups can enrich classroom discussion, produce cross-racial understanding, and break down racial stereotypes.
Rather than emphasizing diversity as justified by past or present discrimination, the Court's opinion in the law school case looked to the future challenges the nation faces: "... because universities, and in particular, law schools, represent the training ground for a large number of the Nation's leaders, the path to leadership must be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity." The Court also noted that "the Law School engaged in a highly individualized, holistic view of each applicant's file, giving serious consideration to all the ways an applicant might contribute to a diverse educational environment."
Four justices dissented in the law school case, believing that the "critical mass" notion was simply a disguise for an illegal quota. To the dissenters, the Constitution's prohibition against racial discrimination protects white people as well as members of underrepresented groups. They also believed there were nondiscriminatory ways to achieve diversity.
In contrast, Michigan's undergraduate admissions policy was found unconstitutional by a vote of $6$ to $3$ . The majority objected to the program's failure to consider applicants on an individual basis as required by the Court's $1978$ Bakke decision. While the undergraduate admissions program could use race-conscious affirmative action, it had to be individualized and not mechanical.
The dissenters would have allowed the use of automatic points to achieve diversity because it was an honest, open approach to the role race plays in the admissions process.
What are the key facts in each of the cases ? How are the cases similar? Different? 10th Edition•ISBN: 9780134700724Elliot Aronson, Robin M. Akert, Samuel R. Sommers, Timothy D. Wilson 6th Edition•ISBN: 9780357041178Spencer A. Rathus 3rd Edition•ISBN: 9781319070502 (1 more)C. Nathan DeWall, David G Myers 13th Edition•ISBN: 9780135225691 (1 more)Michael R Solomon