Grutter at Work: A Title VII Critique of Constitutional Affirmative Action

Jessica Bulman-Pozen, Columbia Law School


This Note argues that Title VII doctrine both illuminates internal contradictions of Grutter v. Bollinger and provides a framework for reading the opinion. Grutter's diversity rationale is a broad endorsement of integration that hinges on the quantitative concept of critical mass, but the opinion's narrow-tailoring discussion instead points to a model of racial difference that champions subjective decisionmaking and threatens to jettison numerical accountability. Tide VII doctrine supports a reading of Grutter that privileges a view of diversity as integration and therefore cautions against the opinion's conception of narrow tailoring. Grutter, in turn, can productively inform employment discrimination law. The opinion reaffirms principles of contested Tide VII precedent and suggests how employers might use affirmative action to meaningfully integrate their workforces.