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United States V. Virginia

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United States V. Virginia - Page Text Content

FC: United States V. Virginia | Joel and Shannon

1: Table of Contents Pages 2-7: Background Pages 8-11: Crucial Case Info Pages 12-15: Reaching the Supreme Court Page 16: Aftermath

2: Background: The Virginia Military Institute, founded in 1839, was the only single-sex public college in Virginia until 1996. VMI's aim is to produce citizen soldiers through an adversative method of education that includes physical rigor, absence of privacy, minute regulation of behavior and indoctrination of value.

3: Virginia Military Institute

4: In 1990, a female high-school student was denied admission to VMI solely because of her sex. She complained to the U.S. Attorney General, who sued VMI and Virginia for violating prospective female applicants rights under the EP Clause. The District Court ruled in favor of VMI in 1991. The United States appealed the decision, and a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the District Court’s judgment in 1992. The Appeals Court held that denying admission to women violated their rights under the EP Clause, but also ruled that admitting women would “materially affect” three aspects of VMI’s program: physical training, absence of privacy, and the adversative model.

5: The Appeals Court found that the EP Clause protects women’s right to equality of opportunity, a right that could be protected by establishing “parallel educational institutions” for women. [Think: “separate but equal”] Virginia and VMI then established the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL), located at Mary Baldwin College (a private liberal arts college for women). The District Court and the Appeals Court approved the plan in 1995, with the latter Court holding that VMI and VWIL were “sufficiently comparable”.

7: The Clinton administration appealed the Appeals Court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a 7-1 decision that reversed the Appeals Courtis decision. [Thomas recused himself: his son Jamal was a VMI student.] Faced with the potential loss of state support, VMI altered its admissions policy and began admitting women in 1996.

8: Virginia and VMI responded by creating Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL), an all-female program at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. VWIL shared VMI's goal of producing citizen-soldiers, but it did not have the same military-style features. VWIL cadets lived separately instead of together and had more classroom instruction than physical training. VWIL also had fewer academic programs, received less state funding, and had fewer Ph.D. professors than VMI. Finally, VWIL could not offer the reputation VMI had earned over 150 years of providing education.

9: After reviewing VWIL's program, Judge Kiser ruled that it satisfied the Equal Protection Clause. When the Justice Department appealed this time, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals approved Judge Kiser's decision. It said that although VMI and VWIL were not identical, they were close enough to provide both men and women with a military-style education in Virginia.

10: Following the ruling, VMI contemplated going private to exempt itself from the 14th Amendment, and thus this ruling. The Department of Defense warned the school that it would withdraw all ROTC programs from the school if this privatization took place

12: The Justice Department appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 26, 1996, the Supreme Court voted 7 that VMI must either give up state funding or admit women. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, wrote the opinion for the Court.

13: In her opinion, Justice Ginsburg said that under the Equal Protection Clause, sex discrimination is allowed only if it serves a substantial state interest. A substantial state interest is one that is important enough to make sex discrimination acceptable, such as creating jobs for women. According to Ginsburg, the state interest being served may not rely on old ideas that women are less talented than men. It also may not "create or perpetuate the legal, social, and economic inferiority of women."

14: Ginsburg decided that VMI's all-male program did not serve a substantial state interest in Virginia. She said the goal of producing citizen-soldiers with a military education does not require excluding women, and that women are able to succeed at VMI and would not ruin the quality of its program. Ginsburg said, "Women's successful entry into the Federal military academies, and their participation in the nation's military forces, indicate that Virginia's fear for the future of VMI may not be solidly grounded."

15: Ginsburg also addressed the idea that VWIL provided a separate but equal education for women. After looking at the two programs, Ginsburg decided that VWIL was a "pale shadow" of VMI's famous program. "Women seeking and fit for a VMI quality education cannot be offered anything less under the State's obligation to afford the genuinely equal protection," she wrote.

16: Aftermath: | What did this case affect: | 1. Women are allowed to attend VMI. | 2. Now women and men are given the same training. | 3. VMI becomes the last all-male public school in the United States. | 4. Gender bias has become less popular in military schools, today. | 5. Men are slandering women less in the military today. | 6. VMI which produced excellent results with one gender will not achieve the same results with both genders in the program. To see the truth of this, one must look at the product of the service academies since the introduction of coeds. | 7. Men at VMI dislike the fact that there are women attending the same school as them because of different working skill levels.


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  • By: Shannon H.
  • Joined: over 6 years ago
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    • By: Joel R.
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About This Mixbook

  • Title: United States V. Virginia
  • Shannon and Joel
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  • Published: about 6 years ago