North American South Asian Bar Association
2013 Annual Convention
San Francisco, CA
June 20 - 23, 2013
NASABA Idol: Supreme Court Reargument
United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996), is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Virginia Military Institute's long-standing male-only admission policy in a 7-1 decision. (Justice Clarence Thomas recused himself from the case, presumably because his son was enrolled at VMI at the time. Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated that because VMI failed to show "exceedingly persuasive justification" for its sex-based admissions policy, it violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. In an attempt to satisfy equal protection requirements, the state of Virginia had proposed a parallel program for women, called the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL), located at Mary Baldwin College, a private liberal arts women's college. However, Justice Ginsburg held that the VWIL would not provide women with the same type of rigorous military training, facilities, courses, faculty, financial opportunities, and/or alumni reputation and connections that VMI affords male cadets, a decision evocative of Sweatt v. Painter, when the Court ruled in 1950 that segregated law schools in Texas were unconstitutional, since a newly formed black law school clearly did not provide the same benefits to its students as the state's prestigious and long-maintained white law school. In her opinion, she stated that "The VWIL program is a pale shadow of VMI in terms of the range of curricular choices and faculty stature, funding, prestige, alumni support and influence."
Honorable Theodore A McKee, Chief Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, For The Third Circuit
Honorable Amul Thapar, United States District Judge, Eastern District of Kentucky
Honorable Jay Gandhi, United States Magistrate Judge, Central District of California
Neal Katyal, representing Virginia
Preeta Bansal, representing the United States
The National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106.