Landmark Case – Regents of the U. of California v. Bakke (1978)

Affirmative Action, Equal Protection

” . . . Race or ethnic background may be deemed a “plus” in a particular applicant’s file, yet it does not insulate the individual from comparison with all other candidates for the available seats.”— Justice Powell, Speaking for the Court

In the early 1970s, the medical school of the University of California at Davis devised a dual admissions program to increase representation of disadvantaged minority students. Allan Bakke was a white male who applied to and was rejected from the regular admissions program, while minority applicants with lower grade point averages and testing scores were admitted under the specialty admissions program. Bakke filed suit, alleging that this admissions system violated the Equal Protection Clause and excluded him on the basis of race. The Supreme Court found for Bakke against the rigid use of racial quotas, but also established that race was a permissible criteria among several others.

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