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In DeFunis v. Odegaard (1974), a law school applicant challenged the University of Washington Law School's race-conscious admission policy, charging that his rejection constituted discrimination. DeFunis is important because it was the first dispute to reach the Supreme Court involving voluntary affirmative action or admission policy in a postsecondary school context. The justices had addressed court-ordered affirmative action policies in formerly segregated colleges and universities. By the time the DeFunis case reached the Court, the applicant who challenged the policy had nearly completed his studies, so the justices declared the case moot and made no ruling on the merits.

Facts of the Case

Marco DeFunis, a White male, applied for admission to the state-operated University of Washington but was denied. The university's law school received 1,600 applications ...

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