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*Grutter v. Bollinger was decided on this date in 2003. This was a landmark case of the Supreme Court of the United States concerning affirmative action in student admissions.
The Court held that a student admissions process that favors "underrepresented minority groups" does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause so long as it takes into account other factors evaluated on an individual basis for every applicant. The case began after a prospective student to the University of Michigan Law School alleged that she had been denied admission because the school gave certain minority groups a significantly greater chance of admission. The school admitted that its admission process favored certain minority groups but argued that there was a compelling state interest to ensure a "critical mass" of students from minority groups.
In a majority opinion joined by four other justices, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor held that the Constitution "does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." In her majority opinion, O'Connor wrote that "race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time," adding that the "Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today." Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer agreed in the judgment but did not subscribe to the belief that the affirmative measures in question would be unnecessary in 25 years.
In a dissent joined by three other justices, Chief Justice William Rehnquist argued that the university's admissions system was, in fact, a thinly veiled and unconstitutional quota system. The decision largely upheld the Court's decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), which allowed race to be a consideration in admissions policy but held racial quotas to be unconstitutional. In Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) a separate case decided on the same day as Grutter, the Court struck down a points-based admissions system that awarded an automatic bonus to the admissions scores of minority applicants.