Political Science at Huntingdon College
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PSC 314: Political theory and Constitutional Law

Supreme Court Opinions: Students' Briefs on Affirmative Action cases

Compiled (thanks) by Dr. Jeremy Lewis  Revised 5 Mar. 2009; with improved briefs and links.
From Spring 2009, these are couched in more formal legal Brief style, rather than informal notes.
Affirmative action cases:

Regents of U. Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)
Regents of the University of California v. Allan Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978); 98 S. Ct. 2733
brief by Dr. Jeremy Lewis, spring 2009 (a student's brief follows)
Facts and Circumstances: Constitutional Issues Before the Court: Holding of the Court: Analysis:
  • Outcome:
  • Bakke was a successful medical student, popular with his classmates, and won a prestigious internship at the Mayo Clinic.
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    a second brief, by a student, follows:

    Regents of California v.  Bakke
    by Bill Butler, spring 2009

    Facts and Circumstances of the Case:

  • The medical school at UC Davis created two admission programs. One, the regular admissions program, measured the major pool of applicants; examining overall GPA, letters of recommendation, interviews, and other factors that culminated in a benchmark score. Then these scores dictated placement for acceptance. However, the second program, called the special admissions committee, examined only members of the following minority groups: African Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, and American Indians. Students in this pool were independently ranked, and would then be recommended for acceptance by a special committee, a majority of whom where minorities. Students also in this pool were held to lower admission standards.
  • Allan Bakke, a white applicant was rejected with a 468 benchmark score
  • because no one with a lower score than 470 was accepted from the general admissions pool. He was not placed on the waiting list, and the four open special admission slots were filled by less qualified minority applicants.
  • After this happened again the next year, in 1974, Bakke sued the school under the equal protection clause and the civil rights act of 1964.
  • Constitutional principles and legal issues:
    -Affirmative Action
    -equal protection clause of the 14th ammendment
    -civil Rights Act of 1964 ( no law shall restrict the distribution of federal aid on the basis of race.)
    Holding of the Court: 5-4 decision for Bakke. Legal Analysis:
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    Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003)
    brief by Dr. Jeremy Lewis, spring 2009

    Facts and Circumstances:

    Constitutional Issues Before the Court: Holding of the Court:
  • In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violates both the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI.
  • Analysis:
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    Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003)
    brief by Dr. Jeremy Lewis, spring 2009

    Facts and Circumstances:

    Constitutional Issues Before the Court: Holding of the Court: Analysis:


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