DeFunis v. Odegaard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
DeFunis v. Odegaard
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued February 26, 1974
Decided April 23, 1974
Full case name Marco DeFunis, Jr., et al. v. Odegaard, et al.
Citations 416 U.S. 312 (more)
94 S. Ct. 1704; 40 L. Ed. 2d 164; 1974 U.S. LEXIS 128
Prior history Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Washington
The Court held that the case was moot.
Court membership
Case opinions
Per curiam.
Dissent Douglas
Dissent Brennan, joined by Douglas, White, Marshall
Laws applied
U.S. Const.

DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case decided on April 23, 1974, that was determined to be moot, and therefore could not go forward. American student Marco DeFunis, who had been denied admission to the University of Washington School of Law in the state of Washington, and then had been provisionally admitted during the pendency of the case, was slated to graduate within a few months at the time the decision was rendered.[1]

The Court rejected the assertion that the case fell into either of two exceptions to the mootness doctrine that were raised by the plaintiff. The case did not constitute "voluntary cessation" on the part of the defendant law school, because the plaintiff was now in his final quarter, and the law school could take no action to deny him the ability to graduate. Nor was this a question that was "capable of repetition, yet evading review" because the plaintiff would never again face this situation, and others who might raise the same complaint in the future might be able to receive full review in the courts.

DeFunis argued that materials brought to light during discovery and entered into evidence in the trial court showed that his initial denial of admission to the law school was the result of the operation of the law school's affirmative action policy favoring the admission of minority applicants over better-qualified white candidates. Although the Court refused to consider the case on the merits in DeFunis, the issue of affirmative action returned to the Court, sans any problem of mootness, and achieved an opinion on the merits in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karabel, Jerome. The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Boston: Mifflin, 2005.

External links[edit]