"Race or ethnic background may be deemed a ‘plus’ in a particular applicant’s file, yet it does not insulate the individual from comparison with all other candidates for the available seats."

Justice Powell, speaking for the Court

This case explores the legal concept of equal protection.

In the early 1970s, the University of California Davis School of Medicine devised a dual admissions program to increase representation of racial minorities and “disadvantaged” students. Allan Bakke, a White person, applied to and was rejected from the regular admissions program. Applicants of color with lower grade point averages and test scores were admitted under the specialty admissions program. Bakke filed suit, alleging that the dual admissions system violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and excluded him on the basis of race. The Supreme Court found for Bakke against the rigid use of racial quotas, but also established that race was a permissible criterion among several others.



This section is for students. Use the links below to download classroom-ready .PDFs of case resources and activities. 


About the Case

Full Case Summaries

A thorough summary of case facts, issues, relevant constitutional provisions/statutes/precedents, arguments for each side, decision, and case impact.

Case Background and Vocabulary

Important background information and related vocabulary terms.

Visuals

Decision

Learning Activities

The Case

After the Case

This section is for teachers.

Use the links below to access:

  • student versions of the activities in .PDF and Word formats
  • how to differentiate and adapt the materials
  • how to scaffold the activities
  • how to extend the activities
  • technology suggestions
  • answers to select activities  

About the Case


Learning Activities

The Case

After the Case


Teacher Resources

Teaching Strategies Used

Landmark Cases Glossary

The LandmarkCases.org glossary compiles all of the important vocab terms from case materials. It is provided as a view-only Google Sheet.

Glossary

Planning Time and Activities

If you have one day . . .

  •  Read the background summary (•••, ••, •) and answer the questions.
  • Complete the Classifying Arguments Activity. Discuss which arguments the students find most convincing.
  • For homework, have students read the Key Excerpts from the Opinion and answer the questions. Follow-up the next day by reviewing the questions with students.

If you have two days . . .

  • Complete all activities for the first day (excluding homework).
  • On the second day, complete the Applying Precedents Activity.
  • Complete Understanding the Decision activity.
  • For homework, have students read the Key Excerpts from the Opinion and answer the questions. Follow-up the next day by reviewing the questions with students.

If you have three days . . .

  • Complete all activities suggested for the first and second days (including homework).
  • On the third day, complete the Cartoon Analysis Activity.
  • Complete Applying Precedents Activity: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (2016). Or complete the Michigan Affirmative Action Cases activity.
  • For homework, have students complete the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause activity.

If you have four days . . .

  • Complete all of the activities suggested for the first, second and third days (excluding homework).
  • On the Fourth day, complete Mini-Moot Court Activity: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (2016)
  • For homework, have students complete the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause activity.
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