Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena
Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 (1995), was a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court holding government affirmative action programs to an exacting "strict scrutiny" that requires invalidating them unless justified to remedy past discrimination.
Its central ruling was that the Equal Protection Clause "protects persons, not groups." The Court observed, "All governmental action based on race -- a group classification long recognized as 'in most circumstances irrelevant and therefore prohibited,' Hirabayashi [v. United States, 320 U.S. 81, 100, 63 S. Ct. 1375, 87 L. Ed. 1774 (1943)] -- should be subjected to detailed judicial inquiry to ensure that the personal right to equal protection of the laws has not been infringed."
This decision overruled Metro Broadcasting v FCC, 497 U.S. 547 (1990).