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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

Regents of the University of California v Bakke Case Brief


The University of California Medical School had a policy of reserving 16 spots out of a class of 100 in any given class for the benefit of so called “disadvantaged minorities”.  The said University had two programs in particular: the regular admissions program as well as the special admissions program. Under the regular admissions program, candidates whose grade point average was below 2.5 on the 4.0 scale were automatically rejected. If an applicant had a GPA above 2.5, he was then subject to an interview where he would be rated by each committee member on a scale of 1 to 100. The average of such interviews, combined with the applicant’s GPA, MCAT scores, science courses GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, as well as other pertinent personal data were all examined and combined into one so called “benchmark score”. Such score would be determinative of an applicant’s success, subject to the committee and its chairman’s approval. On the other hand, an entirely separate committee existed for determining applicants who were to be granted access to the special admissions program. This committee was primarily composed of members who were part of minorities themselves. If an applicant was deemed by the committee as “disadvantaged”, then they would be subject to the same process under the regular admissions program but without the 2.5 GPA requirement. They were also not ranked against the other candidates included in the ranking for the regular admissions program. The herein respondent, Bakke, was an applicant for such a slot. However, he was denied.

It was alleged in the case that the respondent Bakke actually had a higher or more favorable indicia in measuring performance than other applicants that were actually accepted into the special admissions program. He scored a 468 out of 500 on his first try and then 549 out of 600 on his next one. The subsequent applicants who were admitted into the program were found to have significantly lower scores than Bakke. It was found that his race was the only characteristic which set him apart from the said applicants that were admitted. Bakke was a white male. It was noted that no disadvantaged white males were admitted under the special program. Because of this, he filed a suit.


The issue is whether or not it was constitutional for the said school to use race as qualification in the aspect of admission to the said programs.


As laid out in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourth Amendment, the racial qualification may not be used validly as a standard in school admissions.


The United States of America Supreme Court ruled that race may not be used as a factor in school admissions. It deemed the so called special admissions program of the University of California invalid. In agreeing with the decision of the Supreme Court of California, the US Supreme Court concluded that such program which used race as a measure for the qualification of an individual should not be allowed. While the intent of the school to achieve a more widespread and thorough integration of minority groups into the medical profession both as competent doctors and possible patients was, in all intents and purposes, good, it was deemed that such a program was not the best possible choice as it still was racially biased.

Added to this, the petitioner school was not able to discharge its burden of proving that the respondent would still not have been admitted into the school even without the said special program. It was clear, therefore, that race was indeed the determining factor in his non-admission. The Supreme Court therefore ordered Bakke’s admission into Davis.  

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