Kinley Larntz, generated and analyzed "admissions grids" for the years in question Larntz made" 'cell-by-cell'" comparisons between applicants of different races to determine whether a statistically significant relationship existed between race and admission rates.
He concluded that membership in certain minority groups "'is an extremely strong factor in the decision for acceptance,'" and that applicants from these minority groups "'are given an extremely large allowance for admission'" as compared to applicants who are members of nonfavored groups. Larntz conceded, however, that race is not the predominant factor in the Law School's admissions calculus. Stephen Raudenbush, the Law School's expert, focused on the predicted effect of eliminating race as a factor in the Law School's admission process.
In Dr. Raudenbush's view, a race-blind admissions system would have a "'very dramatic,'" negative effect on underrepresented minority admissions. He testified that in , 35 percent of underrepresented minority applicants were admitted.
Raudenbush predicted that if race were not considered, only 10 percent of those applicants would have been admitted. Under this scenario, underrepresented minority students would have constituted 4 percent of the entering class in instead of the actual figure of Applying strict scrutiny, the District Court determined that the Law School's asserted interest in assembling a diverse student body was not compelling because "the attainment of a racially diverse class.
The District Court went on to hold that even if diversity were compelling, the Law School had not narrowly tailored its use of race to further that interest. The District Court granted petitioner's request for declaratory relief and enjoined the Law School from using race as a factor in its admissions decisions. The Court of Appeals entered a stay of the injunction pending appeal. Sitting en banc, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's judgment and vacated the injunction.
The Court of Appeals first held that Justice Powell's opinion in Bakke was binding precedent establishing diversity as a compelling state interest.
According to the Court of Appeals, Justice Powell's opinion with respect to diversity constituted the controlling rationale for the judgment of this Court under the analysis set forth in Marks v.
United States, U. The Court of Appeals also held that the Law School's use of race was narrowly tailored because race was merely a "potential 'plus' factor" and because the Law School's program was "virtually identical" to the Harvard admissions program described approvingly by Justice Powell and appended to his Bakke opinion.
Four dissenting judges would have held the Law School's use of race unconstitutional. Three of the dissenters, rejecting the majority's Marks analysis, examined the Law School's interest in student body diversity on the merits and concluded it was not compelling. The fourth dissenter, writing separately, found it unnecessary to decide whether diversity was a compelling interest because, like the other dissent-  ers, he believed that the Law School's use of race was not narrowly tailored to further that interest.
We granted certiorari, U. Compare Hopwood v. Texas, 78 F. University of Wash. Law School, F. II A We last addressed the use of race in public higher education over 25 years ago. In the landmark Bakke case, we reviewed a racial set-aside program that reserved 16 out of seats in a medical school class for members of certain minority groups.
The decision produced six separate opinions, none of which commanded a majority of the Court. Four Justices would have upheld the program against all attack on the ground that the government can use race to "remedy disadvantages cast on minorities by past racial prejudice.
Four other Justices avoided the constitutional question altogether and struck down the program on statutory grounds. Justice Powell provided a fifth vote not only for invalidating the set-aside program, but also for reversing the state court's injunction against any use of race whatsoever. The only holding for the Court in Bakke was that a "State has a substantial interest that legitimately may be served by a properly devised admissions program involv-  ing the competitive consideration of race and ethnic origin.
Thus, we reversed that part of the lower court's judgment that enjoined the university "from any consideration of the race of any applicant. Since this Court's splintered decision in Bakke, Justice Powell's opinion announcing the judgment of the Court has served as the touchstone for constitutional analysis of race-conscious admissions policies.
Public and private universities across the Nation have modeled their own admissions programs on Justice Powell's views on permissible race-conscious policies. See, e. We therefore discuss Justice Powell's opinion in some detail. Justice Powell began by stating that "[t]he guarantee of equal protection cannot mean one thing when applied to one individual and something else when applied to a person of another color.
If both are not accorded the same protection, then it is not equaL" Bakke, U. In Justice Powell's view, when governmental decisions "touch upon an individual's race or ethnic background, he is entitled to a judicial determination that the burden he is asked to bear on that basis is precisely tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest. Under this exacting standard, only one of the interests asserted by the university survived Justice Powell's scrutiny. First, Justice Powell rejected an interest in "'reducing the historic deficit of traditionally disfavored minorities in medical schools and in the medical profession'" as an unlawful interest in racial balancing.
Second, Justice Powell rejected an interest in remedying societal dis-  crimination because such measures would risk placing unnecessary burdens on innocent third parties "who bear no responsibility for whatever harm the beneficiaries of the special admissions program are thought to have suffered. Third, Justice Powell rejected an interest in "increasing the number of physicians who will practice in communities currently underserved," concluding that even if such an interest could be compelling in some circumstances the program under review was not "geared to promote that goal.
Justice Powell approved the university's use of race to further only one interest: "the attainment of a diverse student body.
With the important proviso that "constitutional limitations protecting individual rights may not be disregarded," Justice Powell grounded his analysis in the academic freedom that "long has been viewed as a special concern of the First Amendment.
Justice Powell emphasized that nothing less than the "'nation's future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure' to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this Nation of many peoples. Board of Regents of Univ. In seeking the "right to select those students who will contribute the most to the 'robust exchange of ideas,'" a university seeks "to achieve a goal that is of paramount importance in the fulfillment of its mission.
Both "tradition and experience lend support to the view that the contribution of diversity is substantial. Justice Powell was, however, careful to emphasize that in his view race "is only one element in a range of factors a university properly may consider in attaining the goal of a heterogeneous student body. For Justice Powell, "[i]t is not an interest in simple ethnic diversity, in which a specified percentage of the student body is in effect guaranteed to be members of selected ethnic groups," that  can justify the use of race.
Rather, "[t]he diversity that furthers a compelling state interest encompasses a far broader array of qualifications and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a single though important element. In the wake of our fractured decision in Bakke, courts have struggled to discern whether Justice Powell's diversity rationale, set forth in part of the opinion joined by no other Justice, is nonetheless binding precedent under Marks.
In that case, we explained that "[w]hen a fragmented Court decides a case and no single rationale explaining the result enjoys the assent of five Justices, the holding of the Court may be viewed as that position taken by those Members who concurred in the judgments on the narrowest grounds. As the divergent opinions of the lower courts demonstrate, however, "[t]his test is more easily stated than applied to the various opinions supporting the result in [Bakke].
Compare, e. Texas, F. We do not find it necessary to decide whether Justice Powell's opinion is binding under Marks. It does not seem "useful to pursue the Marks inquiry to the utmost logical possibility when it has so obviously baffled and divided the lower courts that have considered it. United States, supra, at More important, for the reasons set out below, today we endorse Justice Powell's view that student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify the use of race in university admissions.
Because the Fourteenth Amendment "protect[s] persons, not groups," all "governmental action based on race-a group classification long recognized as in most circumstances irrelevant and therefore prohibited-should be subjected to detailed judicial inquiry to ensure that the personal right to equal protection of the laws has not been infringed.
We are a "free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality. Virginia, U. It follows from that principle that "government may treat people differently because of their race only for the most compelling reasons. We have held that all racial classifications imposed by government "must be analyzed by a reviewing court under strict scrutiny. Grutter alleged that the school made race a "predominate" factor in admissions decisions and that the school intentionally discriminated against whites, and that this violated the Fourteenth Amendment , which forbids states from denying "to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.
The lower court found for Grutter, ruling that the law school's admissions policy was unconstitutional. After a federal appeals court reversed the decision, Grutter appealed to the Supreme Court, which reviewed the case in Applying the logic of Regents of University of California v.
Bakke , the Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor , ruled that the University of Michigan's affirmative action program was constitutional. The Court argued that while the law school's race-conscious admissions scheme was presumptively unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause because it intentionally discriminated on the basis of race, the school's interest in promoting "student diversity" was sufficiently "compelling," and its case-by-case admissions process was "narrowly tailored" enough, to withstand strict scrutiny.
The Court also argued that the law school's case-by-case, subjective admissions process was "narrowly tailored" enough to be constitutional because it did not employ a quota system and provided for individualized review of applicants. For the immediate future, however, the majority has placed its imprimatur on a practice that can only weaken the principle of equality embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Equal Protection Clause.
Ferguson , U. It has been nearly years since Frederick Douglass asked the intellectual ancestors of the Law School to "[d]o nothing with us! Now we must wait another 25 years to see this principle of equality vindicated. I therefore respectfully dissent from the remainder of the Court's opinion and the judgment.
Timeline of federal courts' decisions[ edit ] The District Court found the Law School's use of race as an admissions factor unlawful.
The measure, called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative , or Proposal 2, passed in November and prohibited the use of race in the Law School admissions processes. In this respect, Proposal 2 is similar to California's Proposition and Washington's Initiative , other initiatives that also banned the use of race in public university admissions decisions.
Judges R. Guy Cole Jr. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. University of Texas , in June In this case, the Court reaffirmed that universities were entitled to deference on their judgment that diversity is a compelling state interest. Importantly, though, the Court ruled that a university was entitled to "no deference" on its judgment that race-based affirmative action was necessary to achieve diversity and its educational benefits.
Latinos in every economic class will need to be cherry-picked, as will Asians and every other group. If there are not enough gays and lesbians on campus to defuse homophobia, institutions will need to protect slots for gays and lesbians in every economic and racial category. Transgender students will not just need representation, but representation from different economic backgrounds.
And Asians who are bad at math and Jews who prefer football to studying will need special recruitment, in order to break down those pernicious widespread stereotypes on campus. But this ignores the possibility that lefty academics otherwise known as academics could be prejudicially biased in favor of minority students, even when they are not themselves minorities.
Reverse discrimination can be ideologically motivated. One way to assess this possibility is to measure the number of black applicants against the number of blacks admitted. Moreover, Rehnquist argued, this bias was more troubling in the University of Michigan Law School case Grutter , because the overall number of Latinos admitted from was only half that of African Americans.
The criterion of diversity, therefore, is not producing anything like a representational spread of U. Thirdly, we have come a long way from the original purpose of affirmative action, if the conversion of on-campus white psyches is the new rational justification.
But the newer logic holds that affirmative action will better-ensure that white people will think better thoughts about people of color. When President Johnson first instituted affirmative action, one of the underlying purposes was reparation to the descendants of former slaves, many of whom were victims of Jim Crow bigotry.
African Americans who felt the sting of racism directly were helped by the policy. The goal of increased diversity, in schools and the workplace, was intimately connected to this reparation function of affirmative action, but that is no longer the case. While many of these groups have faced terrible hardships, they have not been enslaved with the approval of the United States.
But we are living in a post black-and-white era of discrimination, in the sense that we now have many additional kinds of discrimination brought on by melting pot trends. Prejudice is not as uniform as it used to be, and now we have micro-prejudices that cannot be legislated away; Puerto Rican Americans stereotype Mexican Americans, who turn around and stereotype African Americans, who in turn stereotype Korean Americans, who then stereotype Japanese Americans, who stereotype Chinese Americans, who tend to stereotype Pakistani Americans, who stereotype Indian Americans, and so on.
But we are living in a post black-and-white era of discrimination, in the sense that we now have many additional kinds of discrimination brought on by melting pot trends. The policy stresses that "no applicant should be admitted unless we expect that applicant to do well enough to graduate with no serious academic problems. In the wake of our fractured decision in Bakke, courts have struggled to discern whether Justice Powell's diversity rationale, set forth in part of the opinion joined by no other Justice, is nonetheless binding precedent under Marks. According to the Court of Appeals, Justice Powell's opinion with respect to diversity constituted the controlling rationale for the judgment of this Court under the analysis set forth in Marks v. The Law School's interest is not simply "to assure within its student body some specified percentage of a particular group merely because of its race or ethnic origin. In announcing the principle of student body diversity as a compelling state interest, Justice Powell invoked our cases recognizing a constitutional dimension, grounded in the First Amendment, of educational autonomy: "The freedom of a university to make its own judgments as to education includes the selection of its student body.
In , the dean of the Law School charged a faculty committee with crafting a written admissions policy to implement these goals. The Court of Appeals also held that the Law School's use of race was narrowly tailored because race was merely a "potential 'plus' factor" and because the Law School's program was "virtually identical" to the Harvard admissions program described approvingly by Justice Powell and appended to his Bakke opinion. Prejudice is not as uniform as it used to be, and now we have micro-prejudices that cannot be legislated away; Puerto Rican Americans stereotype Mexican Americans, who turn around and stereotype African Americans, who in turn stereotype Korean Americans, who then stereotype Japanese Americans, who stereotype Chinese Americans, who tend to stereotype Pakistani Americans, who stereotype Indian Americans, and so on.
The lower court found for Grutter, ruling that the law school's admissions policy was unconstitutional. More broadly, the Law School seeks "a mix of students with varying backgrounds and experiences who will respect and learn from each other. Justice Thomas, writing that the system was "illegal now", concurred with the majority only on the point that he agreed the system would still be illegal 25 years hence.
All members of our heterogeneous society must have confidence in the openness and integrity of the educational institutions that provide this training. In addition to the expert studies and reports entered into evidence at trial, numerous studies show that student body diversity promotes learning outcomes, and "better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and better prepares them as professionals. Guy Cole Jr. Instead, a university may consider race or ethnicity only as a " 'plus' in a particular applicant's file," without "insulat[ing] the individual from comparison with all other candidates for the available seats. He indicated that critical mass means numbers such that underrepresented minority students do not feel isolated or like spokespersons for their race.
Gore , U. But this ignores the possibility that lefty academics otherwise known as academics could be prejudicially biased in favor of minority students, even when they are not themselves minorities. In particular, the Law School sought to ensure that its efforts to achieve student body diversity complied with this Court's most recent ruling on the use of race in university admissions. By virtue of our Nation's struggle with racial inequality, such students are both likely to have experiences of particular importance to the Law School's mission, and less likely to be admitted in meaningful numbers on criteria that ignore those experiences.
We have held that all racial classifications imposed by government "must be analyzed by a reviewing court under strict scrutiny. Because a lottery would make that kind of nuanced judgment impossible, it would effectively sacrifice all other educational values, not to mention every other kind of diversity. Under this scenario, underrepresented minority students would have constituted 4 percent of the entering class in instead of the actual figure of The case generated a record number of amicus curiae briefs from institutional supporters of affirmative action. See Brief for Respondent Bollinger et al. Kurlaender eds.
Justice Powell was, however, careful to emphasize that in his view race "is only one element in a range of factors a university properly may consider in attaining the goal of a heterogeneous student body. Under this exacting standard, only one of the interests asserted by the university survived Justice Powell's scrutiny. Now that the Court has remanded the case, things will be status quo for the time being. Our holding today is in keeping with our tradition of giving a degree of deference to a university's academic decisions, within constitutionally prescribed limits. As far as overall diversity goes, we might bite the bullet and assert — independent of the affirmative action tradition — that we want a pluralistic campus that reflects our national melting pot. That would amount to outright racial balancing, which is patently unconstitutional.