Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) (link?) was noteworthy for the Court’s acceptance of the claim that a diverse student body leads to substantial educational and social benefits. Diversity, Michigan argued, promotes certain “important and laudable” educational outcomes. A majority of the Court agreed, and listed a number of those benefits, including the claims that:
• “classroom discussion is livelier, more spirited, and simply more enlightening and interesting when students have the greatest possible variety of backgrounds”:
• diversity promotes “cross-racial understanding”;
• “helps to break down racial stereotypes”;
• enables students to better understand people of different races; and
• “promotes learning outcomes, and better prepare students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society by better prepares them as professionals.
539 U.S. at 330.
This in turn would lead to a number of general social benefits:
• the accusation of skills believed by American businesses to be necessary “in today’s increasingly global marketplace” that “can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse peoples, cultures, ideas, and vew points”;
• the training of “a highly qualified, racially diverse officer corps [educated] in a racially diverse educational setting”;
• preparing students from “all ethnic groups” for “work and citizenship” in a highly diverse nation; and
• “cultivating a set of leaders [imbued] with legitimacy in the eyes of the nation” by showing “that the path to leadership [is] visibly open to talented individuals of every race and ethnicity.”
Id. at 530-31.
These benefits are, the Court stated, “not theoretical, but real.” Id. 330. Some of the evidence in support of these claims came in the form of studies conducted by Michigan for the litigation, most notably one prepared by their primary expert witness, Dr. Patricia Gurin. [link] Other sources included briefs filed by military leaders [link], businesses like General Motors [link], and numerous professional associations representing scholars in the field, such as the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Sociological Association. [links]. These were in turn supplemented by various published studies by both former university presidents William G. Bowen and Derek Bok and collected empirical studies and essays by leading scholars.
As we explain elsewhere, Grutter energized those interested in these matters and has led to an exponential expansion of the number of studies conducted. This has had a positive effect, grounding the debate in facts rather than impressions and anecdotes. It has also proved to be a double-edged sword, as the research has posed new questions and complications that must be explored with care.
List of Citations
William G. Bowen & Derek Bok, The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998.
Brief Amicus Curiae of the American Psychological Association in Support of Respondents, Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) (No. 02-241).
Brief of General Motors Corporation as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondents, Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) (No. 02-241).
Brief of the American Education Research association et al. as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) (No. 02-241).
Brief of the American Sociological Association, et al., As Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondents, Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) (No. 02-241).
Mitchell J. Chang, Daria Witt, James Jones & Kenji Hakuta, Compelling Interest: Examining the Evidence on Racial Dynamics in Colleges and Universities. 2003: Stanford Education Press.
Consolidate Brief of Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton, Jr. et al. as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondents, Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) (No. 02-241).
Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003).
Gary Orfield & Michael Kurlaender (Eds.), Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard Education Publishing Group, 2001.