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Gratz v. Bollinger

JENNIFER GRATZ and PATRICK HAMACHER, PETITIONERS v. LEE BOLLINGER et al. is a United States Supreme Court case regarding the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action admissions policy. In a 6-3 decision announced on June 23, 2003, the Supreme Court ruled the university's point system was too mechanistic and unconstitutional. The policy gave "underrepresented" ethnic groups an automatic 20-point bonus on the 150-point scale used to rank applicants. The university considered African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans as underrepresented. Applicants needed 100 points to guarantee admission.

The petitioners, Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher, both white residents of Michigan, applied for admission to the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). Gratz applied for admission in the fall of 1995 and Hamacher in the fall of 1997. Both were subsequently denied admission to the university. In October 1997, Gratz and Hamacher filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the University of Michigan, the LSA, James Duderstadt, and Lee Bollinger. Duderstadt was president of the university while Gratz's application was under consideration, and Bollinger while Hamacher's was under consideration. Their class-action lawsuit alleged "violations and threatened violations of the rights of the plaintiffs and the class they represent to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment... and for racial discrimination."

Like Grutter, the case was heard in District Court, appealed to the Sixth Court of Appeals, and asked to be heard before the Supreme Court. On April 1, 2003 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case, along with Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the Court later upheld affirmative action in general. Along with that decision, the Supreme Court largely upheld its decision in 1978's Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, which allowed race to be a criterion in admissions, but disallowed rigid quotas based on race.

In its ruling Chief Justice Rehnquist delivered the majority opinion of the Court. "Because the University's use of race in its current freshman admissions policy is not narrowly tailored to achieve respondents' asserted compelling interest in diversity, the admissions policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

In the majority were Justices Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Stevens. Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer dissented.

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