Recent Decisions-Supreme Court

Journal of Law and Education, October 2003 | Go to article overview

Recent Decisions-Supreme Court


Final Decision

DOCKET NO.: 02-516

NAME: Gratz v. Bollinger

DATE: June 23, 2003

Caucasian students who were denied admission to the University of Michigan sued claiming that the school's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions was unconstitutional. The university's admissions system used a point system to determine whether an applicant received an offer of admission. Applicants from underrepresented racial or ethnic minority groups were automatically awarded 20 points out of 100 needed for admission. The plaintiffs were denied admission, even though they were considered qualified. The plaintiff's claimed that the admission policy violated the Equal Protection Clause, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. [sec] 1981. Held: The Supreme Court found that the university's admission policy was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court upheld the notion that seeking diversity can constitute a compelling state interest (as explained in the companion case of Grutier v. Bollinger, 123 S.Ct. 2325 (2003)), but in the present case the university's admissions policy was not narrowly tailored to achieve this interest. The university's point system rewarded applicants from underrepresented classes simply on the basis of their racial background. This type of system makes one's race a decisive factor as opposed to one of many factors which are examined for the purpose of admission. Gratz v. Bollinger, 123 S.Ct. 2411 (2003).

DOCKET NO.: 02-516

NAME: Grutter v. Bollinger

DATE: June 23, 2003

Caucasian student denied admission to the University of Michigan Law School filed suit claiming that the school had discriminated against her on the basis of her race. The law school considered a wide variety of factors when considering an application. Among the items the law school considered in admitting a student was how the applicant would add to the diversity of the law school class. The plaintiff claimed that this use of race violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. [sec] 1981. Held: The Supreme Court found the law school's admission policy constitutional. The use of race in the law school's admissions policy was narrowly tailored to establish diversity. Student body diversity is a compelling state interest in the context of university admissions. Furthermore, unlike in Gratz v. Bollinger, 123 S.Ct. 2411 (2003), the use of race was merely a potential plus factor, not a decisive factor, in each applicant's file. Grutier v. Bollinger, 123 S.Ct. 2325 (2003).

Summary Actions

DOCKET NO.: 01-1865

NAME: Oden v. Northern Marianas College

DATE: June 16, 2003

College student sued college under Title IX for college 's alleged failure to discipline an instructor whom the student claimed had sexually harassed her. The student filed a complaint with the school after enduring two months of sexual harassment from a college professor. The college assisted the student in preparing her case for presentation before the college's Committee on Sexual Harassment. The committee found that the professor was guilty of sexually harassing a student, although the conduct of the professor did not rise to a level which warranted dismissal. The committee recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the professor and the college administration agreed with this finding.

The student filed a Title IX action against the school claiming that its actions were insufficient to redress her complaint. The student claimed that the time at which the hearing was held (one year after the complaint was initially filed), as well as the failure to dismiss the professor from his employment, rose to the level of deliberate indifference to the student's complaint.

The court of appeals held that the college's response to the student's complaint did not rise to the level of deliberate indifference, the standard by which Title IX actions are gauged. …

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