Bakke v. Regents of University of California, S.F. 23311

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtMOSK; WRIGHT; TOBRINER
Citation18 Cal.3d 34,553 P.2d 1152,132 Cal.Rptr. 680
Parties, 553 P.2d 1152 Allan BAKKE, Plaintiff, Cross-Defendant and Appellant, v. The REGENTS OF the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant, Cross-Complainant and Appellant.
Docket NumberS.F. 23311
Decision Date16 September 1976

Page 680

132 Cal.Rptr. 680
18 Cal.3d 34, 553 P.2d 1152
Allan BAKKE, Plaintiff, Cross-Defendant and Appellant,
v.
The REGENTS OF the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant, Cross-Complainant and Appellant.
S.F. 23311.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
Sept. 16, 1976.
As Modified on Denial of Rehearing Oct. 28, 1976.

[18 Cal.3d 37]

Page 682

[553 P.2d 1154] Jacobs, Blanckenburg, May & Colvin, Reynold H. Colvin and Robert D. Links, San Francisco, for plaintiff, cross-defendant and appellant.

David Lehrer, Los Angeles, Justin Finger, Joy Meyers, Edward Leavy, Arnold Forster, New York City, Robert J. Snyder, Pinole, and John Ligtenberg, Chicago, Ill.,

Page 683

[553 P.2d 1155] as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiff, cross-defendant and appellant.

Donald L. Reidhaar, John F. Lundberg, Berkeley, and Gary Morrison, Brownsville, Tex., for defendant, cross-complainant and appellant.

June E. Moroney, Berkeley, Kenneth L. Karst, Los Angeles, Norman Dorsen, New York City, Vilma S. Martinez, San Francisco, Sanford Jay Rosen, Beckeley, Roberto S. Martinez, Drucilla S. Ramey, Jack H. Friedenthal, Paul A. Brest, Charles J. Meyers, Stanford, John Denvir, San Francisco, Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May, Oakland, and Williams, Myers & Quiggle, Washington, D.C., as amici curiae on behalf of defendant, cross-complainant and appellant.

[18 Cal.3d 38] MOSK, Justice.

In this case we confront a sensitive and complex issue: whether a special admission program which benefits disadvantaged minority students who apply for admission to the medical school of the University of California at Davis (hereinafter University) offends the constitutional rights of better qualified applicants denied admission because they are not identified with a minority. We conclude that the program, as administered by the University, violates the constitutional rights of nonminority applicants because it affords preference on the basis of race to persons who, by the University's own standards, are not as qualified for the study of medicine as nonminority applicants denied admission.

In 1973 and 1974, plaintiff Allan Bakke, a Caucasian, applied for admission to the University, which is supported by public funds. There were 2,644 applicants for the 1973 entering class and 3,737 for the 1974 class. Only 100 places are available each year, of which 16 are filled under the special admission program in dispute; applicants for the remaining 84 places are chosen by recourse to the normal admission process. 1

Bakke, who did not apply for consideration under the special program, was denied admission in both years, and was not admitted to any other medical school. He filed a complaint against the University seeking mandatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief to compel the University to admit him, 2 alleging he was qualified for admission and the sole reason his application was rejected was that he was of the Caucasian race. The complaint also alleged that all students admitted under the special program were members of racial minorities, that the program applied separate, i.e., preferential, standards of admission as to them, and that the use of separate standards resulted in the acceptance of minority applicants who were less qualified for the study of medicine than Bakke and other nonminority applicants not selected. He claimed he had been the victim of invidious discrimination because of his race, in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

[18 Cal.3d 39] The University filed a cross-complaint for declaratory relief, seeking a determination that the special admission program was valid. The cross-complaint averred that the University considers the minority status of an applicant as only one factor in selecting students for admission, and that the purposes of the special program were to promote diversity in the student body and the medical profession, and to expand medical education opportunities to persons from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. The cross-complaint

Page 684

[553 P.2d 1156] did not allege that Bakke should be denied relief because of laches.

The trial court, after considering the pleadings, the deposition and declaration of Dr. George H. Lowrey, the associate dean of student affairs and chairman of the admissions committee, and the interrogatories submitted by the parties, found that the special admission program discriminated against Bakke because of his race and that he was entitled to have his application evaluated without regard to his race or the race of any other applicant. It found against the University on its cross-complaint for declaratory relief. However, the court determined that Bakke was not entitled to an order for admission to the University because, although he was qualified to be admitted in both years in which he applied, he would not have been selected even if there had been no special program for minorities. Thus the court denied Bakke's prayer for an injunction ordering his admission.

Both parties appeal from the ensuing judgment--Bakke from the portion of the judgment denying him admission, and the University from the determination that the special admission program is invalid and that Bakke is entitled to have his application considered without regard to his race or the race of any other applicant. Bakke renewed his application for admission subsequent to the judgment, but the University refused to evaluate his qualifications without regard to the special admission program. We transferred the cause directly here, prior to a decision by the Court of Appeal, because of the importance of the issues involved. (Cal.Const., art. VI, § 12; rule 20, Cal.Rules of Court.)

The Admission Procedure

An applicant for admission to the University is required to take the Medical College Admission Test, which measures accomplishment in four distinct areas--verbal, quantitative, general information, and science--and his score on this test is included in the application. The [18 Cal.3d 40] application also calls for a description of extracurricular and community activities, a history of the applicant's work experience, and his personal comments. In addition, the applicant is required to submit two letters of recommendation, usually one from a science teacher and one from a teacher in another discipline, and transcripts from schools previously attended.

In 1973, the application form inquired whether the applicant desired to be considered by a special committee which passed upon the applications of persons from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. The following year a revised form was adopted; 3 instead of the question relating to disadvantage, the applicant was asked whether he 'describes' himself or herself as a 'White/Caucasian' or a member of some other identifiable racial or ethnic group, 4 and whether he wished to be considered an applicant from a minority group.

Although for 1974 and the years thereafter no specific question regarding disadvantage was mentioned on the application form, the material distributed by the University referred to a special program to increase opportunities for medical study for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and between 1971 and 1974 both white and minority applicants applied for the special program. 5

[18 Cal.3d 41]

Page 685

[553 P.2d 1157] The selection of students for admission is conducted by two separate committees. The regular admission committee consists of a volunteer group of 14 or 15 faculty members and an equal number of students, all selected by the dean of the medical school. 6 The special admission committee, which evaluates the applications of disadvantaged applicants only, consists of students who are all members of minority groups, and faculty of the medical school who are predominantly but not entirely minorities. Applications from those not classified as disadvantaged (including applications from minorities who do not qualify as disadvantaged) are screened through the regular admission process. The evaluation of the two groups is made independently, so that applicants considered by the special committee are rated only against one another and not against those considered in the regular admission process. All students admitted under the special program since its inception in 1969 have been members of minority groups.

The Regular Admission Program

Initially, members of the regular committee determine whether the applicant reflects sufficient promise to warrant a personal interview. Applicants with a college grade point average below 2.5 on a scale of 4.0 are summarily rejected, but a higher average does not necessarily guarantee that an interview will be afforded. In 1973, with 2,644 persons applying for admission, 815 applicants were selected for interviews under the regular program, and 462 interviews were granted in 1974 out of 3,737 applicants.

The interview sessions were conducted by one faculty member of the committee in 1973, but in 1974 each applicant was interviewed additionally by a student member. The interviewer prepares a summary of the meeting, reviews the file of the applicant, including his grade point average and his score on the Medical College Admission Test, and, after evaluating the applicant's potential contribution to the medical profession, grades him on a scale of 0 to 100. The applicant's file, including a summary of the interview but without the numerical score given by the interviewer, is then reviewed by four other committee members, two of whom are students and two faculty, chosen at random. These four independently rate the applicant on the same scale. The scores are totalled; in 1973 the highest score an applicant could achieve was 500, [18 Cal.3d 42] whereas in 1974--because two interviews were conducted rather than only one--the highest score was 600.

This combined numerical rating is based upon an assessment of the applicant...

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61 practice notes
  • Hull v. Cason
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 7, 1981
    ...in experimenting with various methods to achieve this compelling societal objective." (Bakke v. Regents of University of California (1976) 18 Cal.3d 34, 81, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152, quoting from unchallenged portion of Justice Tobriner's In Dothard v. Rawlinson, supra, 433 U.S. 321......
  • Arp v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 5, 1977
    ...widowers of any substantial benefits to which they are otherwise entitled. (See Bakke v. Regents of University of California (1976) 18 Cal.3d 34, 46, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152, cert. granted, --- U.S. ---, 97 S.Ct. 1098, 51 L.Ed.2d We find the ameliorative classification argument unp......
  • Connerly v. State Personnel Bd., No. C032042.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 4, 2001
    ...II, supra, 438 U.S. 265, 98 S.Ct. 2733, 57 L.Ed.2d 750, the court affirmed a decision of the California Supreme Court (Bakke I, supra, 18 Cal.3d 34, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152), insofar as it held a race-based admissions program unlawful, but reversed insofar as it precluded the schoo......
  • Hi-Voltage Wire Works, Inc. v. City of San Jose, No. S080318.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 30, 2000
    ...encouraged...." (Id. at p. 542, 50 Cal.Rptr. 881, 413 P.2d 825.) Finally, in Bakke v. Regents of University of California (1976) 18 Cal.3d 34, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152 (Bakke I), the plaintiff challenged a medical school admissions program that reserved 16 percent of the admission o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • Hull v. Cason
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 7, 1981
    ...in experimenting with various methods to achieve this compelling societal objective." (Bakke v. Regents of University of California (1976) 18 Cal.3d 34, 81, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152, quoting from unchallenged portion of Justice Tobriner's In Dothard v. Rawlinson, supra, 433 U.S. 321......
  • Arp v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 5, 1977
    ...widowers of any substantial benefits to which they are otherwise entitled. (See Bakke v. Regents of University of California (1976) 18 Cal.3d 34, 46, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152, cert. granted, --- U.S. ---, 97 S.Ct. 1098, 51 L.Ed.2d We find the ameliorative classification argument unp......
  • Connerly v. State Personnel Bd., No. C032042.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 4, 2001
    ...II, supra, 438 U.S. 265, 98 S.Ct. 2733, 57 L.Ed.2d 750, the court affirmed a decision of the California Supreme Court (Bakke I, supra, 18 Cal.3d 34, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152), insofar as it held a race-based admissions program unlawful, but reversed insofar as it precluded the schoo......
  • Hi-Voltage Wire Works, Inc. v. City of San Jose, No. S080318.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 30, 2000
    ...encouraged...." (Id. at p. 542, 50 Cal.Rptr. 881, 413 P.2d 825.) Finally, in Bakke v. Regents of University of California (1976) 18 Cal.3d 34, 132 Cal.Rptr. 680, 553 P.2d 1152 (Bakke I), the plaintiff challenged a medical school admissions program that reserved 16 percent of the admission o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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