Case Analysis and Comparison

Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978), the Medical School of the University of California at Davis ran two admissions programs for the entering class of 100 students. One was a regular admissions program and the other a special admissions program. Under the regular procedure, candidates whose overall under-graduate grade point averages fell below 2.5 on a scale of 4.0 were rejected. About one out of six applicants was then given an interview, following which he was rated on a scale of 1 to 100 by each of the committee members, his rating being based on the interviewers' summaries, his overall grade point average, his science courses grade point average, his Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and other biographical data, all of which resulted in a total benchmark score. The entire admissions committee then made offers of admission on the basis of their review of the applicant's file and his score. This was done as applications were received. The committee chairman was responsible for putting names on the waiting list and also had the discretion to include persons with special skills.

A separate committee, the majority of who were members of minority groups, was in charge of the special admissions program. The 1973 and 1974 application forms, respectively, asked candidates whether they wished to be considered as economically and/or educationally disadvantaged applicants and members of a minority group defined as blacks, Chicanos, Asians, and American Indians. If an applicant of a minority group was found to be disadvantaged, they were rated in a manner that was similar to those by the general admissions committee. Special candidates did not have to meet the 2.5 grade point cutoff and were not ranked against candidates in the general admissions process. Approximately one-fifth of the special applicants were invited for interviews in 1973 and 1974. After this they were given benchmark scores, and the top choices were then given to the general admissions committee, which could reject special candidates for failure to meet course requirements or other specific deficiencies (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 1978).

The special committee would then continue to recommend candidates until 16 special admission selections had been made. There were 63 minority students admitted to Davis under the special program and 44 under the general program during a four-year time frame. No disadvantaged whites were admitted under the special program during this time even though many applied. The respondent, a white male, applied to Davis in 1973 and 1974, in both years being considered only under the general admissions program. Although he had a 468 out of 500 score in 1973, he was rejected since no general applicants with scores less than 470 were being accepted after respondent's application, which was filed late in the year. At that point in time there were four special admission slots that were still unfilled. In 1974 the respondent applied early, and although he had a total score of 549 out of 600, he was again rejected. In neither year was his name placed on the discretionary waiting list by the committee chair. In both years special applicants were admitted with significantly lower scores than respondent's (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 1978).

After his second rejection, the respondent filed this action in state court for mandatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief to compel his admission to Davis, alleging that the special admissions program operated to exclude him on the basis of his race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a provision of the California Constitution, and 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides, inter alia, that no person shall on the ground of race or color be excluded from participating in any program receiving federal financial assistance. Petitioner filed a cross complaint for a declaration that its special admissions program was lawful. The trial court found that the special program was operated as a racial quota, because minority applicants in that program were rated only against one another, and 16 places in the class of 100 were reserved for them. The court ruled that the petitioner could not take race into account in making admissions decisions, and held that the program was a violation of the Federal and State Constitutions and Title VI. Respondent's admission was not ordered for lack of proof that he would have been admitted but for the special program (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 1978).

The California Supreme Court concluded that the special admissions program was not the least intrusive means of achieving the goals of the admittedly compelling state interests of integrating the medical profession and increasing the number of doctors willing to serve minority patients. Without ruling on the state constitutional or federal statutory grounds the court held that petitioner's special admissions program violated the Equal Protection Clause. Since the petitioner could not satisfy its burden of demonstrating that respondent, absent the special program, would not have been admitted, the court ordered his admission to Davis. The United States Supreme court using a strict view, held the judgment insofar as it ordered respondent's admission to Davis and invalidates petitioner's special admissions program, but is reversed insofar as it prohibits petitioner from taking race into account as a factor in its future admissions decisions (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 1978).

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction equal protection under the laws. The laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others under similar conditions and circumstances. A violation would occur, if a state prohibited an individual from entering into an employment contract because he or she was a member of a particular race. The intention of the equal protection clause is not to provide equality among individuals or classes but only equal application of the laws. The result of a law is not relevant so long as there is no discrimination in its application. By denying states the ability to discriminate, the equal protection clause of the Constitution is crucial to the protection of civil rights (Equal Protection, n.d.).

The issue of whether the equal protection clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in an activity yet denies other individuals the same right. There is no clear rule that is used in deciding when a classification is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ordered the application of different tests depending on the type of classification and its effect on fundamental rights. Most often the Court finds a state classification constitutional if it has a rational basis to a legitimate state purpose. The Supreme Court has applied more stringent analysis in certain cases. It will strictly scrutinize a distinction when it represents a suspect classification. In order for strict scrutiny to be used, it must be shown that the state law or its administration is meant to discriminate. If a purpose to discriminate is found the classification will be strictly scrutinized if it is based on race, national origin, or sometimes non-U.S. citizenship. In order for a classification to be found allowable under this test it must be proven, by the state, that there is a compelling interest to the law and that the classification is necessary to further that interest. The Court will also apply a strict scrutiny test if the classification interferes with fundamental rights such as first amendment rights or the right to privacy. The Supreme Court also necessitates states to show more than a rational basis for classifications based on gender or a child's status as illegitimate (Equal Protection, n.d.).

In the case of Gratz v Bollinger, (02-516) 539 U.S. 244 (2003), petitioners filed this class action alleging that the University's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. They wanted compensatory and punitive damages for past violations, declaratory relief finding that respondents violated their rights to nondiscriminatory treatment, an injunction prohibiting respondents from continuing to discriminate on the basis of race, and an order requiring the LSA to offer Hamacher admission as a transfer student. The District Court granted petitioners' motion to certify a class consisting of individuals who applied for and were denied admission to the LSA for academic year 1995 and who are members of racial or ethnic groups that respondents treated less favorably on the basis of race. Hamacher, whose claim was found to challenge racial discrimination on a class wide basis, was designated as the class representative (Gratz v Bollinger, (02-516) 539 U.S. 244, 2003).

On cross petitions for summary judgment, respondents relied on Justice Powell's principal opinion in Regents of Univ. Of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 317, which articulated the…