Grutter v. Bollinger

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In Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of an applicant's race in a state university admission program at issue there focused on each applicant as an individual, and not simply as a member of a particular racial group.

The Court upheld classification of applicants by race because it was only part of a "highly individualized, holistic review," 539 U.S. at 337. The Court explained that "the importance of this individualized consideration in the context of a race-conscious admissions program is paramount." Id.

The Court later narrowed the impact of this holding to ensure that the use of racial classifications was indeed part of a broader assessment of diversity, and not simply an effort to achieve racial balance, which the Court explained would be "patently unconstitutional." Id. at 330. The Court later emphasized that this holding was based on deference to higher education based on factors uniquely relevant those institutions, relying on the statement that "[o]ur holding today is in keeping with our tradition of giving a degree of deference to a university's academic decisions." Id. at 328.