Petitioner applied to the University of Michigan Law School with a 3.8 GPA and LSAT score of 161 and was denied admission. The law school had an outwardly stated policy of admitting students on the basis of race. To justify its policy the law school stated that they had a compelling interest to achieve diversity within the school. Petitioner argued that the school had granted admissions to minorities with similar or lesser credentials than she. At trial the court held that the policy was not justified because such discrimination does not present a compelling interest to discriminate on the basis of race.
Whether the admission policy on the basis of race violates the equal protection clause such that it does not promote a compelling interest.
No, policy upheld. Justice O’Connor wrote that the policy was narrowly tailored enough to withstand strict scrutiny and that the university had a compelling interest to achieve racial diversity up to a particular point. She wrote that at an unspecified time in the future, the use of race in admissions will no longer be necessary. She presumably wrote this to suggest that affirmative action policies ought to be temporary because society will advance to a phase of non-discrimination on its own. The court wrote that they took the university’s word that race was never the sole reason for acceptance of rejection, but rather a meaningful consideration alongside other meaningful considerations.