Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001).

Martha Sandoval brought a class action suit to enjoin the Alabama Department of Public Safety from administering state driver's license examinations only in English. Sandoval argued that the English-only policy violated the Department of Justice regulation because it had the effect of subjecting non-English speakers to discrimination based on their national origin. The Alabama Department of Public Safety is a recipient of federal financial assistance so it is subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The issue in the case was whether private individuals were able to sue to enforce disparate impact regulations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Supreme Court held that plaintiffs can sue under the intentional discrimination provisions in Section 601 of Title VI. However, plaintiffs cannot bring lawsuits under the disparate impact regulations promulgated by Federal agencies under Section 602 of Title VI; there is no private right of action to enforce disparate-impact regulations promulgated under Title VI. Nevertheless, persons may still file administrative complaints with Federal agencies under the Title VI regulations.

*If a student brings forward a claim for discrimination and violation of Title VI, they can sue under intentional discrimination provisions; they cannot bring a private right of action to enforce disparate-impact regulations.


Brown v. Bd. of Ed. of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kan., 347 U.S. 483 (1954). 

This case held that the segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other tangible factors may be equal, deprives minority children of equal educational opportunities, and amounts to a deprivation of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. The Court held that the opportunity to education is a right which must be available to all on equal terms and the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in the field of public education; separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

*Although schools may be officially desegregated, they nevertheless remain effectively segregated due to institutionalized racism in American education and racial bias in school curriculum. Moreover, there are a growing group of parents who are removing their children today from integrated schools and placing them in immersions schools because they believe that only separate can be equal because racism in schools has not been eliminated. 

Regents of U. of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978).

In this case, a white male applied to medical school and his application was rejected. He brought an action against the University of California challenging the legality of the school’s special admissions program in which 16 of 100 positions in the class were reserved for “disadvantaged” minority students. The standard the court relied on was that “racial and ethnic distinctions of any sort are inherently suspect and call for the most exacting judicial examination.” These suspect classifications are subject to strict scrutiny and can only be justified if they further a compelling government purpose and no less restrictive alternative is available. The Court ultimately held that the attainment of a diverse student body is a constitutionally permissible goal for an institution of higher education. However, ethnic diversity is only one element in a range of factors that a university may properly consider in attaining the goal of a heterogeneous student body.

*In Bakke, the Court found the state’s interest in diversity in higher education to be compelling. Many scholars argue today that the ridding of affirmative action programs in some jurisdictions is even more reason for law schools to review their approaches for achieving diversity. If affirmative action is diminished, minority enrollment will diminish. Thus, law schools will have to come up with alternatives to race-conscious admissions policies in order to satisfy ABA standards and achieve a diverse student body. Law schools should create a learning environment with a focus on multiculturalism and diversity in order to attract minority students.