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in a 5-4 decision, the justices held that University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts’ use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. 1981. Gratz v. Bollinger, No. 02-516. The current guidelines use a selection method under which every applicant from an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority group is automatically awarded 20 points of the 100 needed to guarantee admission. According to the court, an admissions policy such as Michigan’s that considers race exclusively as a factual matter of an individual’s membership of a minority group, violates the equal protection clause. Michigan’s 20-point distribution has the effect of making “the factor of race . . . decisive” for virtually every minimally qualified underrepresented minority applicant. Rehnquist delivered the court’s opinion, in which O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas joined. Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter dissented.

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