This was the first instance of the court taking a case specifically involving affirmative action. The case involved a white man, Allan Bakke, who had applied for a seat at the medical school at the University of California at Davis. Bakke was rejected, and then he sued, arguing that less qualified minorities were being allowed into the school under a quota system reserving a specific number of seats for minorities.
In a 5-4 ruling, a divided Supreme Court in 1978 ruled that the specific quota system used by the University of California at Davis was illegal but that race could be taken into consideration in determining admission slots at the school. The result was the first time the Court had held that reverse discrimination could be justified under certain circumstances.