The 9th of TAH.org’s Landmark Supreme Court Cases webinars took place on Saturday, 8 April 2017, with University of CA Regents v. Bakke (1978) as the focus. Scholars provided a background on the case, the state of affirmative action policy and laws as of the 1970s, and the particulars of how these were being applied in higher education at the time. A number of interesting facts about the case were considered – including Bakke’s professional background and how his case made its way through the California legal system, and finally to the United States Supreme Court.
The 14th Amendment figured prominently in the early decisions, as well as the legal claims made by Bakke in his suits against the school, and how these could be reconciled with Civil Rights legislation from the 1960s. A significant undercurrent of the case and discussion was about whether the equal protection clause mandates color-blindness, for any reason, or if it permits some kinds of race-based considerations, but not others. This complicated case is a great opportunity to teach students how laws and the Constitution are analyzed, interpreted, and used, to reach court decisions.