An introduction to Constitutional Law 100 Supreme Court cases everyone should know

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

Justice O’Connor wrote the majority opinion, which was joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer. She found that the law school’s admissions policy was constitutional. Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas dissented.

Why was the University of Michigan’s undergraduate policy set aside but the law school policy upheld? The law school did not assign a numerical value to an applicant’s race, as did the undergraduate policy. Instead, the law school considered race as a “plus” factor among many other factors. Moreover, the law school gave serious consideration to all the ways besides race that an applicant might contribute to a diverse educational environment. Specifically, the majority found that the law school engaged in a “highly individualized, holistic review of each applicant’s file.”

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