21. “The Bakke Case: A Whitewash?”

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

The Bakke case has created a high emotional state on both sides of the issue of affirmative action. America may have been misled and not fully informed as to all the facts surrounding this case.

Bakke went to court complaining that he was denied admission to the U. C. Davis Medical School on the grounds that he was white. He argued that this violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. The trial court agreed with Bakke as did the California State Supreme Court. They voted with Bakke by a vote of 6-1. The State Supreme Court ruled that the U.C. admissions program was unconstitutional.

The University perfunctorily went to court to defend itself. The Supreme Court of California reportedly failed to hear all the evidence surrounding this case. Many members of the minority community of California believe that U. C. wanted to rid itself of the admissions program, one that they never wanted, and as a result left much to be desired in their handling of this affair.

Bakke, reportedly, was encouraged by an admissions official at the Davis campus to file suit; this official is reported to have provided Bakke with the names of attorneys sympathetic to Bakke’s cause and leaked information about the academic prowess of students admitted under the program. Moreover, University counsel agreed with Bakke’s lawyer to try the case without oral testimony; this being the case at the appellate level. No expert testimony describing the purpose of the program or explaining why traditional criteria is obsolete in assessing the true potential of minority candidates was submitted into evidence. No data explaining the compelling need for doctors in the minority communities was submitted. The U. C: lawyers never made mention to the court that the dean’s special admissions program, under which politically and well financed University supporters are admitted in spite of being less qualified than other applicants, including Bakke, was in existence and being practiced until 1976.

Bakke may not have been excluded for the reasons he is protesting; he may not have a case built on the 14th amendment when all the facts are taken into consideration.

This story, due to its lack of public attention to all the issues and facts, is nominated as one of the “best censored stories of 1977.”


“Are Racial Quotas Defensible?”, by Charles Lawerence III, Current, December, 1977, pp. 3-10.