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

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education. The medical school at the University of California, Davis, denied admission to Allan Bakke, a white man. At the time, there were 100 seats in the entering class. Sixteen seats were set aside for minority applicants. Bakke could not compete for those spots. He argued that the quota system violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bakke also claimed that the admissions pol- icy violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That statute prohibited racial discrimination by schools that accept federal funding.

The Supreme Court sharply divided in Bakke. The breakdown was somewhat confusing.

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