Court Rules On School’s Affirmative Action Policies

2003

The U.S. Supreme Court issues two rulings in challenges to affirmative action admissions policies at the University of Michigan. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court says the law school’s admissions policy is constitutional because it considers the race of applicants, among other factors, to try to achieve racial diversity in its student body. The Court says diversity is a compelling interest, in part because students need to be prepared for life in a diverse world.

In Gratz v. Bollinger, though, the Court rejects the affirmative action program for undergraduate admissions because it awards 20 points to minority applicants out of 100 needed for admission, automatically giving them an advantage over white applicants. Although diversity is a compelling interest, the Court says the automatic point system is like a quota system, which is prohibited,and not narrowly tailored as required by the Constitution.