Grutter v. Bollinger Case Brief

Facts of the case

In 1997, Barbara Grutter, a white resident of Michigan, applied for admission to the University of Michigan Law School. Grutter applied with a 3.8 undergraduate GPA and an LSAT score of 161. She was denied admission. The Law School admits that it uses race as a factor in making admissions decisions because it serves a compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body.The District Court concluded that the Law School’s stated interest in achieving diversity in the student body was not a compelling one and enjoined its use of race in the admissions process. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that Justice Powell’s opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978), constituted a binding precedent establishing diversity as a compelling governmental interest sufficient under strict scrutiny review to justify the use of racial preferences in admissions. The appellate court also rejected the district court’s finding that the Law School’s critical masswas the functional equivalent of a quota.


Because the law school engaged in a highly individualized, holistic review of each applicant, giving serious consideration to all the ways the applicant might contribute to a diverse educational environment, it ensured that all factors that could contribute to diversity were meaningfully considered alongside race.

  • Advocates: Kirk O. Kolbo Argued the cause for the petitioners Maureen E. Mahoney Argued the cause for the respondent Theodore B. Olson as amicus curiae, supporting Petitioner Miranda K. S. Massie for respondent James et al. George B. Washington for respondent James et al.
  • Petitioner: Grutter
  • Respondent: Bollinger
  • DECIDED BY:Rehnquist Court
  • Location: The University of Michigan Law School Graduate Admissions
Citation: 539 US 306 (2003)
Argued: Apr 1, 2003
Decided: Jun 23, 2003
Grutter v. Bollinger Case Brief