Gratz v. Bollinger

539 U.S. 244 (2003)

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Gratz v. Bollinger

United States Supreme Court
539 U.S. 244 (2003)

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Facts

Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher (plaintiffs), both Caucasians, applied for admission to the University of Michigan (the university) (defendant) in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Both were denied admission. Undergraduate-admission decisions were based on multiple factors, one of which was race. The university admitted almost all applicants of certain races deemed underrepresented if the applicants met academic qualifications. In 1998, the university adopted a point-based admissions system. Different point values were assigned to different factors, and an applicant could score up to 150 points. Point bands generally delineated the admission decisions. Some applicants received additional personal consideration, but most were admitted or denied based solely on their numerical score. If an applicant was a member of an underrepresented minority, then the applicant was automatically awarded 20 points, a fifth of the total points needed to be almost guaranteed admission. Gratz and Hamacher filed a class-action suit against the university and certain individuals, including Lee Bollinger (defendants). Gratz and Hamacher argued that the university’s admissions policy violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and certain civil-rights statutes. The district court granted summary judgment in Gratz and Hamacher’s favor as to the pre-1998 admissions policy but granted summary judgment in the university’s favor as to the post-1998 admissions policy, deeming it to satisfy strict scrutiny. Because the case aligned with another being heard by the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court granted review before the Sixth Circuit could render a decision on appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)

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