458 U.S. 718 (1982), 81-406, Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan

Docket Nº:No. 81-406
Citation:458 U.S. 718, 102 S.Ct. 3331, 73 L.Ed.2d 1090
Party Name:Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan
Case Date:July 01, 1982
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 718

458 U.S. 718 (1982)

102 S.Ct. 3331, 73 L.Ed.2d 1090

Mississippi University for Women

v.

Hogan

No. 81-406

United States Supreme Court

July 1, 1982

Argued March 22, 1982

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Held: The policy of petitioner Mississippi University for Women (MUW), a state-supported university which has from its inception limited its enrollment to women, [102 S.Ct. 3333] of denying otherwise qualified males (such as respondent) the right to enroll for credit in its School of Nursing violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 723-733.

(a) The party seeking to uphold a statute that classifies individuals on the basis of their gender must carry the burden of showing an "exceedingly persuasive justification" for the classification. Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455, 461; Personnel Administrator of Mass. v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 273. The burden is met only by showing at least that the classification serves "important governmental objectives and that the discriminatory means employed" are "substantially related to the achievement of those objectives." Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Insurance Co., 446 U.S. 142, 150. The test must be applied free of fixed notions concerning the roles and abilities of males and females. Pp. 723-727.

(b) The single-sex admissions policy of MUW's School of Nursing cannot be justified on the asserted ground that it compensates for discrimination against women and, therefore, constitutes educational affirmative action. A State can evoke a compensatory purpose to justify an otherwise discriminatory classification only if members of the gender benefited by the classification actually suffer a disadvantage related to the classification. Rather than compensating for discriminatory barriers faced by women, MUW's policy tends to perpetuate the stereotyped view of nursing as an exclusively woman's job. Moreover, the State has not shown that the gender-based classification is substantially and directly related to its proposed compensatory objective. To the contrary, MUW's policy of permitting men to attend classes as auditors fatally undermines its claim that women, at least those in the School of Nursing, are adversely affected by the presence of men. Thus, the State has fallen far short of establishing the "exceedingly persuasive justification" needed to sustain the gender-based classification. Pp. 727-731.

(c) Nor can the exclusion of men from MUW's School of Nursing be justified on the basis of the language of § 901(a)(5) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which exempts from § 901(a)'s general prohibition

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of gender discrimination in federally funded education programs the admissions policies of public institutions of undergraduate higher education "that traditionally and continually from [their] establishment [have] had a policy of admitting only students of one sex." It is not clear that, as argued by the State, Congress enacted the statute pursuant to its power granted by § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to enforce that Amendment, and thus placed a limitation upon the broad prohibitions of the Equal Protection Clause. Rather, Congress apparently intended, at most, to create an exemption from Title IX's requirements. In any event, Congress' power under § 5

is limited to adopting measures to enforce the guarantees of the Amendment; § 5 grants Congress no power to restrict, abrogate, or dilute these guarantees.

Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641, 651, n. 10. Pp. 731-733.

646 F.2d 1116 and 653 F.2d 222, affirmed.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., post p. 733, and BLACKMUN, J., post, p. 733, filed dissenting opinions. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 735.

O'CONNOR, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the narrow issue of whether a state statute that excludes males from enrolling in a state-supported professional nursing school violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

I

The facts are not in dispute. In 1884, the Mississippi Legislature created the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College

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for the Education of White Girls of the State of Mississippi, now the oldest state-supported all-female college in the United States. 1884 Miss.Gen.Laws, Ch. 30, § 6. The school, known today as Mississippi University for Women (MUW), has from its inception limited its enrollment to women.1

In 1971, MUW established a School of Nursing, initially offering a 2-year associate degree. Three years later, the school instituted a 4-year baccalaureate program in nursing, and today also offers a graduate program. The School of Nursing has its own faculty and administrative officers, and establishes its own criteria for admission.2

Respondent, Joe Hogan, is a registered nurse but does not hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Since 1974, he has worked as a nursing supervisor in a medical center in Columbus, the city in which MUW is located. In 1979, Hogan applied for admission to the MUW School of Nursing's baccalaureate program.3 Although he was otherwise qualified, he

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was denied admission to the School of Nursing solely because of his sex. School officials informed him that he could audit the courses in which he was interested, but could not enroll for credit. Tr. 26.4

Hogan filed an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, claiming the single-sex admissions policy of MUW's School of Nursing violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Hogan sought injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory damages.

Following a hearing, the District Court denied preliminary injunctive relief. App. to Pet. for Cert. A4. The court concluded that maintenance of MUW as a single-sex school bears a rational relationship to the State's legitimate interest "in providing the greatest practical range of educational opportunities for its female student population." Id. at A3. Furthermore, the court stated, the admissions policy is not arbitrary, because providing single-sex schools is consistent with a respected, though by no means universally accepted, educational theory that single-sex education affords unique benefits to students. Ibid. Stating that the case presented no issue of fact, the court informed Hogan that it would enter summary judgment dismissing his claim unless he tendered a factual issue. When Hogan offered no further evidence, the District Court entered summary judgment in favor of the State. Record 73.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that, because the admissions policy discriminates on the basis [102 S.Ct. 3335] of gender, the District Court improperly used a "rational relationship" test to judge the constitutionality of the policy. 646 F.2d 1116, 1118 (1981). Instead, the Court of Appeals stated, the proper test is whether the State has carried the heavier burden of showing that the gender-based classification is substantially related to an important governmental

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objective. Id. at 1118, 1119. Recognizing that the State has a significant interest in providing educational opportunities for all its citizens, the court then found that the State had failed to show that providing a unique educational opportunity for females, but not for males, bears a substantial relationship to that interest. Id. at 1119. Holding that the policy excluding Hogan because of his sex denies him equal protection of the laws, the court vacated the summary judgment entered against Hogan as to his claim for monetary damages, and remanded for entry of a declaratory judgment in conformity with its opinion and for further appropriate proceedings. Id. at 1119-1120.

On rehearing, the State contended that Congress, in enacting § 901(a)(5) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Pub.L. 92-318, 86 Stat. 373, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., expressly had authorized MUW to continue its single-sex admissions policy by exempting public undergraduate institutions that traditionally have used single-sex admissions policies from the gender discrimination prohibition of Title IX.5 Through that provision, the State argued, Congress limited the reach of the Fourteenth Amendment by exercising

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its power under § 5 of the Amendment.6 The Court of Appeals rejected the argument, holding that § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment does not grant Congress power to authorize States to maintain practices otherwise violative of the Amendment. 653 F.2d 222 (1981).

We granted certiorari, 454 U.S. 962 (1981), and now affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.7

II

We begin our analysis aided by several firmly established principles. Because the challenged policy expressly discriminates among applicants on the basis of gender, it is subject to scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71, 75 (1971). That this statutory policy discriminates against males, rather than against females, [102 S.Ct. 3336] does not exempt it from scrutiny or reduce the standard of review.8 Caban v. Mohammed,

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441 U.S. 380, 394 (1979); Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268, 279 (1979). Our decisions also establish that the party seeking to uphold a statute that classifies individuals on the basis of their gender must carry the burden of showing an "exceedingly persuasive justification" for the classification. Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455, 461 (1981); Personnel Administrator of Mass. v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 273 (1979). The burden is met...

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