Gratz v. Bollinger
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Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003), was a United States Supreme Court case regarding the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action admissions policy. In a 6–3 decision announced on June 23, 2003, Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for the Court, ruled the University's point system's "predetermined point allocations" that awarded 20 points to underrepresented minorities "ensures that the diversity contributions of applicants cannot be individually assessed" and was therefore unconstitutional.
The University of Michigan used a 150-point scale to rank applicants, with 100 points needed to guarantee admission. The University gave underrepresented ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, an automatic 20-point bonus towards their score, while a perfect SAT score was worth 12 points.
The petitioners, Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher, both residents of Michigan, applied for admission to the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). Gratz applied for admission in the fall of 1995 and Hamacher in the fall of 1997. Both were subsequently denied admission to the university. Gratz and Hamacher were contacted by the Center for Individual Rights, which filed a lawsuit on their behalf in October 1997. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the University of Michigan, the LSA, James Duderstadt, and Lee Bollinger. Duderstadt was president of the university while Gratz's application was under consideration, and Bollinger while Hamacher's was under consideration. Their class-action lawsuit alleged "violations and threatened violations of the rights of the plaintiffs and the class they represent to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment... and for racial discrimination."
Issues of standing
It has been argued by some that Jennifer Gratz lacked legal standing to bring this action. Gratz applied in 1995, three years before the University of Michigan adopted its points system. Gratz could not claim injury as a result of the points system, and thus, under traditional legal rules, Gratz lacked standing. Gratz chose not to attend the University of Michigan by declining the university's offer to be placed on a waiting list. Every Michigan student who agreed to go onto the waiting list in the spring of 1995 was admitted to the University of Michigan for the Fall 1995 semester. However, Gratz argues that she did fill out the paperwork for said waiting list, but the University claims it got lost.
The Court's majority found that Gratz and co-plaintiff Hamacher had standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief, relying on Northeastern Fla. Chapter, Associated Gen. Contractors of America v. Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656 (1993). Here the "injury in fact" necessary to establish standing in the case was the denial of equal treatment resulting from the imposition of the barrier, and not in the ultimate inability to obtain the benefit.
- Grutter v. Bollinger
- List of class action lawsuits
- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 539
- Perry, Barbara A. The Michigan Affirmative Action Cases University Press of Kansas: 2007. ISBN 978-0-7006-1549-0.
- Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (Text of the opinion from Findlaw)
- "Gratz v. Bollinger: Motion for Summary Judgment". Regents of the University of Michigan. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Transcript of April 1, 2003 Supreme Court arguments (PDF format)
- Briefs, Decisions and audio recordings (mp3 & RealMedia)