Bakke v. Regents of the University of California

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Allan Bakke was rejected admission to the University of California twice in two consecutive years and this instigated the lawsuit he filed against this medical school. Bakke is a white male who applied to Davis medical school through the general admission program but was rejected in the years 1973 and 1974 even after considering him for interviews by the general admission program.

The Pro-Bakke Arguments

According to the California court, the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment required that there should be no rejection of any applicant because of the race in favour of another who is less qualified. Also, nothing in the constitution supported that an individual may be asked to suffer interdicted burdens to enhance the social standing of their ethnic group. Furthermore, special programs in admission such as the special admission may reinforce some stereotypes that certain groups will be unsuccessful without special protection. Moreover, there’s a measure of inequity in Bakke’s case as it involves forcing an innocent individual to bear the burden of redressing grievances, not of their making.

The Pro-Quota System Arguments

Davis’s school of medicine special admission program main purpose was to remedy the effects of past societal discrimination, since the problem of underrepresentation of minority was chronic and substantial, attributed on minority applicants on the present and past racial discrimination in America. For instance, until the year 1973, the practice of medicine was purely for the whites in America with only 2.2% of the total physicians being the Negroes. The education of the majority of the Negro physicians was in two predominantly Negro medical schools; Howard and Meharry. Basing on only one system of admission standard in the medical school would mean that underrepresentation of racial minorities in medical school would continue. For instance, in 1968 and 1969 only one Chicano and two Negroes were admitted out of 100 admitted in the only regular admission’s program.

The states continued denying the blacks equal education opportunity even after amending the fourteenth amendment, by enforcing a segregation policy which pushed the minorities to inferior schools, denying them advancement in their professional life. The absence of special admission programs would lead to limited access of minority students in the medical schools. The program aimed to address the segregation effects by uniting different races in America. Whites were excluded from the special admission program to permit admission of a reasonable percentage of the underrepresented qualified minority applicants under the quota system. Besides, Bakke would not be much affected by the decision as compared to when he was a black American since he still has a chance in other medical schools.

In your opinion, who has had stronger arguments and why? Do you think Bakke was a victim of reverse discrimination?

The Davis Medical School representing the racial minority group had stronger arguments compared to Allan Bakke. Bakke, being from a racial majority group, on the other hand, was not a victim of reverse discrimination because the special admission program was for the minority group. Individuals from the majority group had to apply through the regular admission program. The perfect score in the two years that the petitioner applied; 1973 and 1974 was 500 and 600 simultaneously of which he scored 468 and 549 simultaneously making his rejection through the regular admission program valid. Furthermore, on his first application in the year 1973, he submitted his admission late. Bakke finally failed to prove that he qualified for the admission but not for the existence of the special program. Above all, Davis’s medical special admission program purpose was to fight the effects of segregation on the minority group, not the majority because the minority were vulnerable to suffering compared to the majority at the time.

Do you think there's a real difference between affirmative action and quotas? What is your view on each and did reading the decision affect your views?

Affirmative action is different from quotas in the sense that it is the positive effort by the government to eliminate discrimination on the minority or disadvantaged group. It majorly focuses on the equal opportunity and ethical diversity within an institution. On the other hand, quota focuses on the specific number or percentage that must be filled by the minority group (Prasad para 1). Use of quotas in Davis school was evident because the minority group had a specific number of students to be admitted. Since Bakke was white, and he did not get a chance through the special admission program, it means that the quota system can lead to division. Affirmative action on the other hand advocates for equal opportunity and ethnical diversity within an institution. Davis school did not use affirmative action because Bakke did not get admission to the school through the special admission program since he was from a majority group, and the quota system had a specific percentage for the racial minority group to join.   However, reading of the decision did not affect my views.

 Do you think race remains a significant issue in Higher education? Are affirmative action programs still necessary in America? Does socio-economic class have as much importance as race? What role should these factors play in University and professional school admissions?

Race remains to be a very crucial aspect in higher education because embracing the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment in America’s institutions is important. Using quotas system in admission might lead to division of the American people. Affirmative action programs are necessary for America because it leads to ethnic diversity giving rise to innovations, and making sure that people are qualified for the work that they do. The socio-economic class has as much importance as a race because most students from high socioeconomic status come from racial majority group unlike those from low socio-economic status who are mostly from a racial minority group. Just as race, those from low socio-economic classes are not able to access better education or professional studies mostly due to financial problems. It is important for the American government to focus on this two crucial significant aspects during student admissions to reach the Equal Protection Clause. Socio-economic class and race of an individual are significant during university and professional school admissions. These two factors help in the achievement of equal opportunity, ethnical diversity and address the problem of societal discrimination within the institutions in America. There are various students from different social and racial background in America, but all of them should have equal chances of getting admission.

Works Cited

Prasad, Ashokai. “There is a difference between 'quotas' and 'affirmative action,' do we get it?”, Sept. 2015,

September 04, 2023



Race and Ethnicity

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