National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1987-: We the People are still making history

June 23, 2003
Supreme Court rules a narrowly tailored use of race in student admission decisions may be permissible

Students demonstrate as the Supreme Court debates Grutter v. Bollinger

”I viewed filing a lawsuit as a positive thing.”
—Barbara Grutter

We embrace equal opportunity, but can’t agree on how to create a level playing field for all Americans.

Today in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger that colleges and universities may sometimes admit minority students with lower test scores and grades than white applicants who are denied admission, in order to create a diverse student body.

Twenty-five years ago the Court issued a similar ruling, permitting the use of race as a “plus factor” in the admissions process. Justice O’Connor predicts that such racial preferences will not be necessary in another 25 years. One thing is certain: we will be debating this issue for years to come.

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