The University of Michigan developed an admission scale for applicants that provided a maximum of 150 points, with 100 points being all that’s needed for guaranteed admission. In this scale, they provided 20 points for racial minorities. At a point of reference, the school provided 12 points for a perfect SAT score. Petitioner applied and was denied, then sued for violation of her equal protection rights. Interestingly, the point system had not been in effect at the time of petitioner’s law suit; it would only be implemented three years later. Moreover, petitioner was not rejected outright; she was placed on the waitlist.
Whether a policy of allocating high point values on a scale for race alone violates the equal protection clause of the constitution.
Yes, the policy is unconstitutional. The court wrote that the policy was not “narrowly tailored” enough to justify its constitutionality. The allocation of 20 points for nothing other than race was a large number that discriminated without any particularized or individualized consideration. However, the court did say that a policy of affirmative action in general for compelling state interest of enhancing diversity is sufficient. That is, there is a compelling state interest in enhancing diversity. However, the university simply went too far in their policy to achieve this objective, thereby discriminating against non-minorities on the basis of race in the process.