Race has been a very delicate issue throughout the United States history. It has most currently been introduced in a case that could potentially go to the Supreme Court. Gratz v. Bollinger discusses whether it is constitutional to use race as a factor in admitting students into College. Lee Bollinger is the lawyer for University of Michigan's flagship Ann Arbor campus, which is the university that has been accused of practicing unconstitutional admissions programs that benefit minorities.
Jennifer Gratz, a former applicant of the university believes she was rejected from the school because she is a white middle class woman, and not because she was unqualified. She believes that she was more qualified to attend the university compared to other minorities that were admitted. The last Supreme Court case dealing with racial issues was Bakke v. University of California Davis.
However, many Supreme Court cases have dealt with race in society. Plessey v. Ferguson and Brown v. the Board of Education were earlier cases dealing with segregation between races. All of these cases apply to Gratz v. Bollinger, because they will help base the decision of whether using race in making admissions decisions is constitutional. Personally, I believe that we should use race as a decision factor in college admissions because it promotes diversity. It also gives more opportunities for minorities to succeed which would raise minority's position in society. However, I also believe that using race as a main factor in college admissions is unconstitutional because, even though it is meant to benefit minorities, it is discriminatory. The first Supreme Court case dealing with racial segregation was Plessey v. Ferguson.
In 1890, Louisiana passed the Separate Car Act providing separate but equal rail cars for blacks and whites. But a few years later a man named Homer Plessey decided to test the law by sitting in the white section of the railcars. Even though Plessey was one-eighths black and seven-eighths white he was jailed for sitting in the white cars because Louisiana law still considered him black. Ferguson was the district judge that found Plessey guilty. When the case reached the Supreme Court the decision sided with Ferguson saying that Louisiana's Separate Car Act was constitutional.
They majority opinion justified their decision with the argument that the thirtieth amendment did not apply to this case because it dealt with slavery not segregation. They added that the fourteenth amendment made everyone equal politically, because whites were equally forbidden to go in black rail cars as blacks were to going in whites. However, one of the Supreme Court Justices, John Marshall Harlan believed that the segregation in rail cars violated the constitution. He pointed out that the thirtieth amendment not only made slavery illegal, it prohibited badges of servitude on any race.
He believed that segregation of rail cars made blacks feel inferior. He added that the fourteenth amendment provided equality for every race, but using separate rail cars was not equal, because if blacks and white were equal they would not have to be separated. I agree with Harlan's dissent. During this time on the United States history many white Americans were racist, but they also thought that blacks were not equal to them. Harlan was the one Justice that disregarded any racist views and let the unbiased constitution decide.
He believed that if the constitution stated that everyone one should be treated equally under the law that there should be no segregation. The next Supreme Court case that applies to Gratz v. Bollinger is Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954. Set in Kansas, if a town was more than 15,000 people then it could remain to have separate black and white schools. The Board of Education in Topeka decided to establish separated elementary schools even when other schools were non-segregated. The Browns sued the Board of Education because they believed segregated schools were unconstitutional.
They wanted their daughter, Linda Brown, to be given equal opportunities by being able to go to the white school. The Supreme Court agreed with Harlan's dissent by ruling against segregation in schools because it is inherently unequal. The Supreme Court stated that even if schools had the exact same facilities it inherently makes one race feel less superior. They also stated that the law was purposely made to advantage whites and disadvantage blacks. White schools had better facilities and more resources. The white schools also had better educational programs then the black schools, providing a clear pathway to a successful future for whites.
The Supreme Court believed that separate schools were unconstitutional because it allowed white students have a better education than blacks simply because of their race. I believe this case was decided correctly. A race should not be disadvantaged because of their race and schools should be color-blind. A school should base their decision solely on qualifications. However, relating Gratz v. Bollinger, if minorities are denied from schools then they will not be given the same opportunities as the majority. There will also not be as much diversity in schools.
Brown v. the Board of Education decided that schools should be color-blind, but the case does not tell how schools should decide their admissions. Lastly, University of California v. Bakke, in 1978 ruled that using quota systems, when deciding admissions in to universities, as unconstitutional, but allowed race as a factor in making a decision. In the early 70's students applying to the University of California Davis would have to meet certain criteria to even be considered for admission into their Medical program.
However, if a person was a minority or was economically or educationally disadvantaged, they could be placed into the special admissions category that saved 16 slots out of 100 total applicants. If a person was placed into the special admissions category, then they would not have to meet the minimum qualifications like the other applicants and they were not compared to the rest of the majority applicants. Allan Bakke, a white male, was rejected from the Medical Program at the University of California Davis twice. However, minorities that were less qualified than Bakke were able to attend the school.
After his second rejection, Bakke suede the university, because their admissions process was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court did rule that the University's quota system was unconstitutional, but allowed race to be a factor in the admissions process. The Bakke decision is what we base our admissions systems from today. Even so, this does not mean we are bound by stare decisis because times change. Plessey ruled that segregation was constitutional, but was later overturned by Brown. Since things are constantly changing, problems in our society must frequently be evaluated.
Gratz v. Bollinger is our society's way of evaluating whether race should be used in admission processes. No matter how Gratz v. Bollinger is decided, someone is going to be disadvantage. If race can be a factor in admissions people like Gratz, the middle class majorities, will be rejected from schools they otherwise would have been able to attend. Their educational carriers will not necessarily be harmed or stopped, but it will make them biased about minorities. These people will be biased because a minority with fewer qualifications will be admitted into the school they worked hard to and wanted to attend.
Plus, if we use race as a factor, many minorities that attend schools might be subject to more prejudiced because it will be assumed a minority was admitted because of their race. However, if race is not a factor in admissions minorities will never be fully represented in universities. It will be extremely hard for minorities who are disadvantaged to be successful in life. Considering all of this, I still believe that race should not be a factor in the admissions process. It will cause more discrimination for minorities, because people will see it as unfair.
Even though it could benefit many minorities by spreading diversity, it will also specifically disadvantage the both groups. However, Justice Brennan in Bakke would oppose my opinion. He believes that Bakke was not significantly affected by his rejection. Brennan believes Bakke would have continued this life with the same amount of success as if he had been admitted into Davis. He thinks that for minorities to succeed they will need help in admissions programs. I agree with Brennan, but giving minorities help because of their race is unconstitutional because it is discrimination.
If minorities did get aid because they are disadvantaged it would create more prejudices, because there are also many white disadvantaged people. Schools, in todays might need it to ensure diversity, but unfortunately it creates stereotypes. Instead of people looking down at minorities because they have been admitted because of their race, I would rather have minorities respected because they had to work hard to be admitted. However, if race isn't a factor in admissions, there will still be a problem of diversity in schools.
Even though I do believe racial preferences are unconstitutional, I believe that the only way to provide diversity in schools is to take race as a preference. The subject of racial preferences is very hard to dispute, because in either decision, someone is going to be disadvantaged. Considering all of the facts and the possible results, I believe that even as much as we need diversity in schools, Gratz should have been admitted, because racial preferences are unconstitutional.
1. Jost, Kenneth. "Affirmative Action. " http://library. cq. com/cqresearcher/search. php. September 21, 2001