Grutter v. Bollinger



The use of an applicant’s race as one factor in an admissions policy of a public educational institution does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if the policy is narrowly tailored to the compelling interest of promoting a diverse student body, and if it uses a holistic process to evaluate each applicant, as opposed to a quota system.


The University of Michigan Law School (“Law School”) implemented in 1992 an admissions policy that gave applicants belonging to certain racial minority groups a greater chance of admission than students with similar credentials from other racial groups. The stated purpose of the policy was to promote racial diversity within the student body, which the Law School considered an important part of providing a strong education to its students.

In 1996, while this policy was in place, the Law School denied admission to applicant Barbara Grutter, a white Michigan resident, who subsequently filed a lawsuit challenging the admissions policy. Grutter alleged that the policy constituted discrimination on the basis of race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Grutter named Lee Bollinger, President of the University of Michigan at the time, as the defendant.ATTORNEYS

  • Kirk O. Kolbo
  • Maureen E. Mahoney
  • Theodore B. Olson