Monday, April 3, 2017

B is for Bakke

Regents of the University of California v Bakke
[June 28, 1978, plurality opinion]

This case involved the University of California at Davis, Medical School, and Allan Bakke, a white applicant who was rejected twice even though there were minority applicants admitted with significantly lower scores than his.

Bakke's argument – a dual system, with minorities and disadvantaged applicants subject to different standards and with a set number of spaces allocated to those students, excluded him from the university on the basis of his race and constituted a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

University's argument – affirmative action, and to ensure diversity in the student body, were legitimate factors to consider when admitting students.

A closely divided Court, with six separate written opinions [none of which had five justices in agreement to constitute a binding ruling of the Court], ruled that while race was a legitimate consideration in school admissions and can be one factor among many, the use of rigid quotas was not permissible.  The Court found that in this instance, a rigid quota system was used because there were a set number of admissions slots that could only be filled by minority and disadvantaged applicants.  Therefore, Bakke must be admitted to the medical school.

Bakke enrolled in the medical school and graduated in 1982.  He pursued a career as an anesthesiologist.

Several subsequent cases did result in a binding determination that affirmative action programs are acceptable if they consider race as one of many factors, so long as there is no rigid quota system.

Did you guess right?
Here's Tuesday's hint - C is for Citizens.  Can you guess the case and what it's about?  Leave a comment!


  1. Interesting. I can see both sides of this one. Sounds like it worked out for everyone in the end.
    Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

    1. Being able to see both sides is a good thing. There's always at least two sides to every case, and everyone is the hero of their own story =)

  2. I can understand the ruling, but I'd have to hear all the evidence to make a judgment. Regardless, wouldn't it be weird to have Bakke for your anesthesiologist knowing that he only earned admission after the court case. Granted, other people were earning admission with lower qualifying scores, but you didn't know who they were.

    It's an interesting world we live in, that's for sure.

    1. We definitely live in an interesting world. As an example, there's someone out there in the blogosphere who has been killed at least twice that I know about, and rumor has it he might be killed again tomorrow....... =)

  3. I had to pop in here after seeing your comment above mine on another blog :) The name Bakke tickled my brain but I couldn't place it. Now I see it, I remember. I recently read Stamped from the Beginning (a history of racism), and there was a section on this case.

    In a nutshell: the tests themselves are heavily biased toward the white middle class. So who's to say the minority applicants weren't just as qualified? I know from having a kid just a little on the autism spectrum that standardized tests do a very poor job of testing anyone a bit off the "typical" ways of thinking.

    The Ninja Librarian’s Favorite Characters

    1. And even without disabilities, some people are brilliant but don't test well. So you're right, the minority applicants may have been just as qualified. But I still admire a guy who wanted to be a doctor so badly that he took his case all the way to the Supreme Court.

      Glad you saw my comment on another blog! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Quite a tricky matter.
    Personally, I don't like this kind of protection. Sometimes back it was quite fascionable her ein Italy to have 'pink quotas' for electoral lists, that is, a set number of the people on a list had to be women.
    I'm a woman. I still don't like this, because it's an artificial situation that is bound to favor people who don't deserve it and to hurm people sho deserve it.

    Just my thought.

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

    1. Your thoughts and opinion are valid. There are always at least two sides and opinions to everything. That's why we have lawyers =)