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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(as amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioners)
Facts of the Case 

In 1995, Jennifer Gratz applied to the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts with an adjusted GPA of 3.8 and ACT score of 25. In 1997, Patrick Hamacher applied to the University with an adjusted GPA of 3.0, and an ACT score of 28. Both were denied admission and attended other schools. The University admits that it uses race as a factor in making admissions decisions because it serves a "compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body." In addition, the University has a policy to admit virtually all qualified applicants who are members of one of three select racial minority groups - African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans - that are considered to be "underrepresented" on the campus. Concluding that diversity was a compelling interest, the District Court held that the admissions policies for years 1995-1998 were not narrowly tailored, but that the policies in effect in 1999 and 2000 were narrowly tailored. After the decision in Grutter, Gratz and Hamacher petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court pursuant to Rule 11 for a writ of certiorari before judgment, which was granted.


Does the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Decision: 6 votes for Gratz, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

Yes. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violates both the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI. While rejecting the argument that diversity cannot constitute a compelling state interest, the Court reasoned that the automatic distribution of 20 points, or one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission, to every single "underrepresented minority" applicant solely because of race was not narrowly tailored and did not provide the individualized consideration Justice Powell contemplated in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978). Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, "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."

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GRATZ v. BOLLINGER. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 May 2015. <>.
GRATZ v. BOLLINGER, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited May 27, 2015).
"GRATZ v. BOLLINGER," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed May 27, 2015,