Smith et al v. University of Washington Law School
The plaintiffs for this case
include Katuria Smith, Angela Rock, and Michael Pyle (collectively Smith), and
the defendants include the University of Washington Law School and law school
admissions. This case was brought to the United States District Court for the
western district of Washington, Seattle Division, by a group of Caucasian
students who had previously
applied to the University of Washington Law School, but were denied admission,
allegedly, due to the racially discriminatory admissions policy employed by the
institution between the years of 1994 to December 1998. The admissions policy
at the University of Washington Law School confirms that the race of an
applicant was taken into consideration during the admissions process in an
attempt to ensure the enrollment of a diverse student body, however these
factors were taken into account among other non-racial diversity factors as
well. It was also noted that the Law School did not set any racial quotas or
target goals for admissions (Smith et al.
v. University of Washington Law School
et. al, 2004).
The plaintiff argues that the
admissions policy employed by the University of Washington Law School from 1994
to 1998 violated the equal protection cause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the
U.S. Constitution, in which the plaintiff should not have been discriminated
against by a state funded institution on the basis of race. As a result, Smith
attempted to charge University of Washington Law School against violating title
VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits any program or activity
from receiving federal funding if it is found that the program has been
discriminating against race, color, or national origin (Smith et al. v. University of Washington Law School et al, 2004).
The defendant argued that the
University of Washington Law School Admissions had simply followed the
"Harvard Plan" of admissions. The Harvard Plan of admissions accounts
for race, among other factors in a competitive process (Smith et. al v. University of Washington Law School et. al., 2004).
The Grutter v. Bollinger t al. case was
cited in this case
as an example of how race and ethnicity are considered "plus factors"
along with unique talents, experiences, and other potentials to contribute to
the learning community (Grutter v.
Bollinger, 2003). Further, the University of California v. Bakke case in
1978 had determined that race could be accounted for in the admissions process
as long as other "soft variables" were also considered in the
decision making after standardize test scores and entrance GPAs (University of California
v. Bakke, 1978).
It was decided that the University
of Washington Law School could consider race and ethnicity into the admissions
process in the interest of creating educational diversity in the program. The
Court used the Grutter case as an example of how tailoring admissions is
constitutional when all "plus factors" are taken into account (Smith et al. v. University
of Washington Law
School et. al., 2004).