Leaders withLlegitimacy

Moreover, universities, and in particular, law schools, represent the training ground for a large number of our Nation’s leaders. . . . In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity. All members of our heterogeneous society must have confidence in the openness and integrity of the educational institutions that provide this training. . . .

Even in the limited circumstance when drawing racial distinctions is permissible to further a compelling state interest, government is still “con- strained in how it may pursue that end: [T]he means chosen to accomplish the [government’s] asserted purpose must be specifically and narrowly framed to accomplish that purpose.” The purpose of the narrow tailoring requirement is to ensure that “the means chosen ‘fit’ . . . the compelling goal so closely that there is little or no possibility that the motive for the classification was illegitimate racial prejudice or stereotype.“. . .

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To be narrowly tailored, a race-conscious admissions program cannot use a quota system. . . . We are satisfied that the Law School’s admissions program, like the Harvard plan described by Justice Powell, does not operate as a quota. Properly understood, a “quota” is a program in which a certain fixed number or proportion of opportunities are “reserved exclusively for certain minority groups.“. . . The Law School’s goal of attaining a critical mass of underrepresented minority students does not transform its program into a quota. As the Harvard plan described by Justice Powell recognized, there is of course “some relationship between numbers and achieving the benefits to be derived from a diverse student body, and between numbers and providing a reasonable environment for those students admitted.” . . . Nor, as Justice Kennedy posits, does the Law School’s consultation of the “daily reports,” which keep track of the racial and ethnic composition of the class (as well as of residency and gender), “suggest[ ] there was no further attempt at individual review save for race itself” during the final stages of the admissions process. To the contrary, the Law School’s admissions offi- cers testified without contradiction that they never gave race any more or less weight based on the information contained in these reports. Moreover, . . . the number of African-American, Latino, and Native-American students in each class at the Law School varied from 13.5 to 20.1 percent, a range in- consistent with a quota.


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