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Regents of The University of California v. Bakke

Case Summary

A respondent, white, was rejected the admission to the Davis Medical School of the University of California, while his admission score was lower than required. Nonetheless it was good enough for a special admission program, which still had 4 places vacant, but his candidature was not considered for that program. After the respondent was rejected again the next year, he filled action in state court for mandatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief to compel his admission to university.

He claimed to have been rejected on the racial basis in violation of the XIV Amendment to the Constitution of CA and other laws. The California Supreme Court ruled petitioner's special admission program violated the Equal Protection Clause, and thus, ordered his admission to Medical School. Nonetheless, the Court did not prohibit the University to select candidates for admission based on their race in the programs.

2. Literature Review and Case Update

The Medical School of the University of California for 1973 and 1974 provided total of 100 places for admission, 16 of which were filled under a special program for students with disadvantages. Admission required grade point average above 2.5, although minority students were admitted to a special program with grade point averages bellow 2,5.

The application forms of 1973 and 1974 included question, whether a candidate consider him/herself as “economically disadvantaged” and/or a member of an ethnical minority group. The data shows that despite the fact that white people also applied for the special program, no white students were elected for that program during the mentioned two years, which raised the issue of reverse discrimination by college admission programs in violation of the existing state and federal legislation.

Thus, the Supreme Court ordered the school to approve plaintiff's admission and applied the decision to any other applicants who had filed actions for judicial relief on similar grounds prior to the filing date of the opinion (Opinion by Mosk, J., with Wright, C. J., McComb, Sullivan, Clark and Richardson, JJ., concurring. Separate dissenting opinion by Tobriner, J.) (LexisNexis).

3. Ethical Issues

The ethical issue in this case is the reverse race discrimination by the University of California in violation of the California Constitution, Federal Constitution and § 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides that no person shall be excluded from participating in the program sponsored by federal money on the basis of race and color.

4. Legal Issues

The legal issue, raised by the case is that there was a disagreement among justices. Therefore, as the Court did not establish any majority position, it was unclear to what extent the decision should apply to colleges, considering race to be a part of affirmative action program.


LexisNexis. Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 429 U.S. 953 LEXIS …

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