Only by dramatically increasing the representation of

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to act. Only by dramatically increasing the representation of women in top computer science programs can we hope to break down the old barriers and stereotypes and create an environment that is truly and equally open to all aspirants.” Because female applicants make up only 23% of Michigan’s applicant pool, some of the female students admitted under this new policy had slightly lower grades and test scores than male students who were rejected. Alejandro Alvarez is an aspiring computer scientist whose application to Michigan was rejected. His undergraduate grades and test scores were better than those of some female students admitted to the program but worse than those of other female applicants who were also rejected. Upset at this perceived unequal treatment Alvarez filed suit challenging Michigan’s gender-quota system as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Is his suit likely to succeed? o ISSUE: Whether the University’s new gender quota violates the Equal Protection clause. o RULE : The government must prove that: the challenged classification serves an important governmental interest; AND is substantially related to the achievement of that interest. The justification must be genuine, not post hoc (i.e. invented after the fact). The justification must not rely on overbroad generalizations. Sex classifications MAY be used to promote equal opportunity
o APPLICATION : Alvarez thinks he should have been admitted. Alvarez thinks he was denied because of the gender quota, which treats him unequally on the basis of his gender. University argues the need for more women in computer science is drastic and compelling. The government needs a strong interest in order to justify discrimination on the basis of sex. If the university can show a significant under-representation of women in the field as a result of long- standing biases, it can more easily overcome Alvarez’s challenge under the Equal Protection clause. o CONCLUSION : Court would likely rule in favor of the university. Takeaways: o Until 1970, the SC refused to provide any constitutional protection for sex discrimination. o That changed dramatically after the 2 nd women’s movement and the near ratification of the ERA. o Sex discrimination will now be upheld only if the gov’t provides an “exceedingly persuasive justification.” o This requires (1) an important government interest; AND (2) a substantial relation between that interest and the challenges classification. o The proffered justification must be genuine, not ad hoc, and overbroad generalizations will not suffice. o This is a demanding rule but more lenient than strict scrutiny (racial discriminations) and leaves more room for sex-based Affirmative Action (than currently exists for race-based Affirmative Action under Equal Protection Clause as it stands today).

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