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Reverse Discrimination

In 1973 a thirty-three year-old Caucasian
male named Allan Bakke applied to and was denied admission to the University
of California Medical School at Davis. In 1974 he filed another application
and was once again rejected, even though his test scores were considerably
higher than various minorities that were admitted under a special program.

This special program specified that 16 out of 100 possible spaces for the
students in the medical program were set aside solely for minorities, while
the other 84 slots were for anyone who qualified, including minorities.

What happened to Bakke is known as reverse
discrimination. Bakke felt his rejections to be violations of the Equal

Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, so he took the University of California

Regents to the Superior Court of California. It was ruled that "the admissions
program violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th

Amendment"1 The clause reads as follows:

"...No state shall make or enforce any
law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the

United States; nor without due process of the law; nor deny to any person
within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."2

The court ruled that race could not be
a factor in admissions. However, they did not force the admittance of Bakke
because the court could not know if he would have been admitted if the
special admissions program for minorities did not exist. Bakke disagreed
with the court on this issue and he brought it before the California Supreme


The California Supreme Court held that
it was the University's burden to prove that Bakke would not have been
admitted if the special program was not in effect. The school could not
meet this requirement, and Bakke was admitted by court orde r. However,
the University appealed to the Supreme Court for "certiorari", which was
granted, and the order to admit Bakke was suspended pending thCourt's decision.3

The Issues and Arguments for Each Side

"Bakke was the most significant civil
rights case to reach the United States Supreme Court since Brown v. Board
the Education of Topeka, Kansas."4 The special admissions program at Davis
tried to further integrate the higher education system because merely removing
the barriers, as the Brown case did, did not always work. In short, Bakke
was questioning how far the University of California Medical School at

Davis could go the try to make up for past racial discrimination and segregation.

The arguments for and against the special
admissions program are complicated. The arguments for special admissions
are as follows: Because of past injustices, compensation should be granted
to minorities, and one possible form is as affirmative action, which, in
this case, is the role of the special admissions program. In addition,
racial diversity in educational institutions was seen as a plus. The diversity
would teach students more about different races and religions and prepare
t hem for the future when they would most likely have to work along side
someone different from themselves. Hopefully, minorities in professional
areas would return to their minority community and be seen as a role model
for minority youth while benef itting the entire community as well. The
final argument for the special admissions program is that advantage should
not be associated with race, i.e. because one is of the Caucasian majority
he/she should not have more advantages and likewise because one is of a
minority he/she should not be disadvantaged.

The arguments against the special admissions
program were based upon the fact that the Constitution was intended to
overlook race and ethnicity in public authority and decisions. The fault
in special admissions programs is that they will use skin color as a more
important factor than academic and personal merit. Thus, those who deserve
advancement may not receive it, due to affirmative action and the associated
reverse discrimination. By doing so, the various ethnic groups will be
divided and possibly end up competing. Another problem with the special
admissions program is that it does not take into account the disadvantaged
who are in the majority, not the minority. And finally, it is seen as charity
to the minorities by many individuals and civil rights groups. The Opinion
of the Supreme Court

The decision of the Supreme Court was seen
as "something for everyone." In other words, each side, although not completely
gaining their ends, furthered their cause. The special admissions program
at Davis was deemed unconstitutional becaus e it specified a number of
minority slots. However, the court upheld the use of race or ethnicity
as "a 'plus' in a particular applicant's file, so long