Virginia's public institutions of higher learning include an incomparable military college, Virginia Military Institute (VMI). The United States maintains that the Constitution's equal protection guarantee precludes Virginia from reserving exclusively to men the unique educational opportunities VMI affords. We agree.
Founded in 1839, VMI is today the sole single-sex school among Virginia's 15 public institutions of higher learning. VMI's distinctive mission is to produce "citizen-soldiers," men prepared for leadership in civilian life and in military service. VMI pursues this mission through pervasive training of a kind not available anywhere else in Virginia. Assigning prime place to character development, VMI uses an "adversative method" modeled on English public schools and once characteristic of military instruction. VMI constantly endeavors to instill physical and mental discipline in its cadets and impart to them a strong moral code. The school's graduates leave VMI with heightened comprehension of their capacity to deal with duress and stress, and a large sense of accomplishment for completing the hazardous course.
VMI has notably succeeded in its mission to produce leaders; among its alumni are military generals, Members of Congress, and business executives. The school's alumni overwhelmingly perceive that their VMI training helped them to realize their personal goals. VMI's endowment reflects the loyalty of its graduates; VMI has the largest per-student endowment of all public undergraduate institutions in the Nation.
Neither the goal of producing citizen-soldiers nor VMI's implementing methodology is inherently unsuitable to women. And the school's impressive record in producing leaders has made admission desirable to some women. Nevertheless, Virginia has elected to preserve exclusively for men the advantages and opportunities a VMI education affords.
From its establishment in 1839 as one of the Nation's first state military colleges, see 1839 Va. Acts, ch. 20, VMI has remained financially supported by Virginia and "subject to
VMI today enrolls about 1,300 men as cadets.
In contrast to the federal service academies, institutions maintained "to prepare cadets for career service in the armed forces," VMI's program "is directed at preparation for both military and civilian life"; "[o]nly about 15% of VMI cadets enter career military service." 766 F. Supp., at 1432.
VMI produces its "citizen-soldiers" through "an adversative, or doubting, model of education" which features "[p]hysical rigor, mental stress, absolute equality of treatment, absence of privacy, minute regulation of behavior, and indoctrination in desirable values." Id., at 1421. As one Commandant of Cadets described it, the adversative method "`dissects the young student,' " and makes him aware of his "`limits and capabilities,' " so that he knows "`how far he can go with his anger, . . . how much he can take under stress, . . . exactly what he can do when he is physically exhausted.' " Id. , at 1421-1422 (quoting Col. N. Bissell).
VMI cadets live in spartan barracks where surveillance is constant and privacy nonexistent; they wear uniforms, eat together in the mess hall, and regularly participate in drills. Id. , at 1424, 1432. Entering students are incessantly exposed to the rat line, "an extreme form of the adversative model," comparable in intensity to Marine Corps boot camp. Id. , at 1422. Tormenting and punishing, the rat line bonds new cadets to their fellow sufferers and, when they have completed the 7-month experience, to their former tormentors. Ibid.
VMI's "adversative model" is further characterized by a hierarchical "class system" of privileges and responsibilities, a "dyke system" for assigning a senior class mentor to each entering class "rat," and a stringently enforced "honor code," which prescribes that a cadet "`does not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do.' " Id. , at 1422-1423.
In 1990, prompted by a complaint filed with the Attorney General by a female high-school student seeking admission to VMI, the United States sued the Commonwealth of Virginia and VMI, alleging that VMI's exclusively male admission policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. , at 1408.
In the two years preceding the lawsuit, the District Court noted, VMI had received inquiries from 347 women, but had responded to none of them. Id. , at 1436. "[S]ome women, at least," the court said, "would want to attend the school if they had the opportunity." Id. , at 1414. The court further recognized that, with recruitment, VMI could "achieve at least 10% female enrollment"—"a sufficient `critical mass' to provide the female cadets with a positive educational experience." Id. , at 1437-1438. And it was also established that "some women are capable of all of the individual activities required of VMI cadets." Id. , at 1412. In addition, experts agreed that if VMI admitted women, "the VMI ROTC experience would become a better training program from the perspective of the armed forces, because it would provide training in dealing with a mixed-gender army." Id. , at 1441.
The District Court ruled in favor of VMI, however, and rejected the equal protection challenge pressed by the United States. That court correctly recognized that Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718 (1982), was
The District Court reasoned that education in "a singlegender environment, be it male or female," yields substantial benefits. 766 F. Supp., at 1415. VMI's school for men brought diversity to an otherwise coeducational Virginia system, and that diversity was "enhanced by VMI's unique method of instruction." Ibid. If single-gender education for males ranks as an important governmental objective, it becomes obvious, the District Court concluded, that the only means of achieving the objective "is to exclude women from the all-male institution—VMI." Ibid.
"Women are [indeed] denied a unique educational opportunity that is available only at VMI," the District Court acknowledged. Id. , at 1432. But "[VMI's] single-sex status would be lost, and some aspects of the [school's] distinctive method would be altered," if women were admitted, id. , at 1413: "Allowance for personal privacy would have to be made," id. , at 1412; "[p]hysical education requirements would have to be altered, at least for the women," id. , at 1413; the adversative environment could not survive unmodified, id. , at 1412-1413. Thus, "sufficient constitutional justification" had been shown, the District Court held, "for continuing [VMI's] single-sex policy." Id. , at 1413.
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit disagreed and vacated the District Court's judgment. The appellate court held: "The Commonwealth of Virginia has not . . . advanced any state policy by which it can justify its determination,
The appeals court greeted with skepticism Virginia's assertion that it offers single-sex education at VMI as a facet of the Commonwealth's overarching and undisputed policy to advance "autonomy and diversity." The court underscored Virginia's nondiscrimination commitment: "`[I]t is extremely important that [colleges and universities] deal with faculty, staff, and students without regard to sex, race, or ethnic origin. ` " Id. , at 899 (quoting 1990 Report of the Virginia Commission on the University of the 21st Century). "That statement," the Court of Appeals said, "is the only explicit one that we have found in the record in which the Commonwealth has expressed itself with respect to gender distinctions." 976 F. 2d, at 899. Furthermore, the appeals court observed, in urging "diversity" to justify an all-male VMI, the Commonwealth had supplied "no explanation for the movement away from [single-sex education] in Virginia by public colleges and universities." Ibid. In short, the court concluded, "[a] policy of diversity which aims to provide an array of educational opportunities, including single-gender institutions, must do more than favor one gender." Ibid.
The parties agreed that "some women can meet the physical standards now imposed on men," id. , at 896, and the court was satisfied that "neither the goal of producing citizen soldiers nor VMI's implementing methodology is inherently unsuitable to women," id. , at 899. The Court of Appeals, however, accepted the District Court's finding that "at least these three aspects of VMI's program—physical training, the absence of privacy, and the adversative approach—would be materially affected by coeducation." Id. , at 896-897. Remanding the case, the appeals court assigned to Virginia, in the first instance, responsibility for selecting a remedial course. The court suggested these options for the Commonwealth: Admit women to VMI; establish parallel institutions
In response to the Fourth Circuit's ruling, Virginia proposed a parallel program for women: Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL). The 4-year, state-sponsored undergraduate program would be located at Mary Baldwin College, a private liberal arts school for women, and would be open, initially, to about 25 to 30 students. Although VWIL would share VMI's mission—to produce "citizensoldiers"—the VWIL program would differ, as does Mary Baldwin College, from VMI in academic offerings, methods of education, and financial resources. See 852 F.Supp. 471, 476-477 (WD Va. 1994).
The average combined SAT score of entrants at Mary Baldwin is about 100 points lower than the score for VMI freshmen. See id., at 501. Mary Baldwin's faculty holds "significantly fewer Ph. D.'s than the faculty at VMI," id. , at 502, and receives significantly lower salaries, see Tr. 158 (testimony of James Lott, Dean of Mary Baldwin College), reprinted in 2 App. in Nos. 94-1667 and 94-1717 (CA4) (hereinafter Tr.). While VMI offers degrees in liberal arts, the sciences, and engineering, Mary Baldwin, at the time of trial, offered only bachelor of arts degrees. See 852 F. Supp., at 503. A VWIL student seeking to earn an engineering degree could gain one, without public support, by attending Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, for two years, paying the required private tuition. See ibid.
Experts in educating women at the college level composed the Task Force charged with designing the VWIL program; Task Force members were drawn from Mary Baldwin's own faculty and staff. Id. , at 476. Training its attention on methods of instruction appropriate for "most women," the
VWIL students would participate in ROTC programs and a newly established, "largely ceremonial" Virginia Corps of Cadets, id. , at 1234, but the VWIL House would not have a military format, 852 F. Supp., at 477, and VWIL would not require its students to eat meals together or to wear uniforms during the schoolday, id., at 495. In lieu of VMI's adversative method, the VWIL Task Force favored "a cooperative method which reinforces self-esteem." Id., at 476. In addition to the standard bachelor of arts program offered at Mary Baldwin, VWIL students would take courses in leadership, complete an off-campus leadership externship, participate in community service projects, and assist in arranging a speaker series. See 44 F. 3d, at 1234.
Virginia represented that it will provide equal financial support for in-state VWIL students and VMI cadets, 852 F. Supp., at 483, and the VMI Foundation agreed to supply a $5.4625 million endowment for the VWIL program, id., at 499. Mary Baldwin's own endowment is about $19 million; VMI's is $131 million. Id., at 503. Mary Baldwin will add $35 million to its endowment based on future commitments; VMI will add $220 million. Ibid. The VMI Alumni Association has developed a network of employers interested in hiring VMI graduates. The Association has agreed to open its network to VWIL graduates, id., at 499, but those graduates will not have the advantage afforded by a VMI degree.
Virginia returned to the District Court seeking approval of its proposed remedial plan, and the court decided the plan met the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause. Id. , at 473. The District Court again acknowledged evidentiary support for these determinations: "[T]he VMI methodology could be used to educate women and, in fact, some
A divided Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's judgment. 44 F.3d 1229 (CA4 1995). This time, the appellate court determined to give "greater scrutiny to the selection of means than to the [Commonwealth's] proffered objective." Id. , at 1236. The official objective or purpose, the court said, should be reviewed deferentially. Ibid. Respect for the "legislative will," the court reasoned, meant that the judiciary should take a "cautious approach," inquiring into the "legitima[cy]" of the governmental objective and refusing approval for any purpose revealed to be "pernicious." Ibid.
"[P]roviding the option of a single-gender college education may be considered a legitimate and important aspect of a public system of higher education," the appeals court observed, id., at 1238; that objective, the court added, is "not pernicious," id., at 1239. Moreover, the court continued, the adversative method vital to a VMI education "has never been tolerated in a sexually heterogeneous environment." Ibid. The method itself "was not designed to exclude women," the court noted, but women could not be accommodated in the VMI program, the court believed, for female participation in VMI's adversative training "would destroy. . . any sense of decency that still permeates the relationship between the sexes." Ibid.
Having determined, deferentially, the legitimacy of Virginia's purpose, the court considered the question of means.
The court recognized that, as it analyzed the case, means merged into end, and the merger risked "bypass[ing] any equal protection scrutiny." Id., at 1237. The court therefore added another inquiry, a decisive test it called "substantive comparability." Ibid. The key question, the court said, was whether men at VMI and women at VWIL would obtain "substantively comparable benefits at their institution or through other means offered by the [S]tate." Ibid. Although the appeals court recognized that the VWIL degree "lacks the historical benefit and prestige" of a VMI degree, it nevertheless found the educational opportunities at the two schools "sufficiently comparable." Id., at 1241.
Senior Circuit Judge Phillips dissented. The court, in his judgment, had not held Virginia to the burden of showing an "`exceedingly persuasive [justification]' " for the Commonwealth's action. Id., at 1247 (quoting Mississippi Univ. for Women, 458 U. S., at 724). In Judge Phillips' view, the court had accepted "rationalizations compelled by the exigencies of this litigation," and had not confronted the Commonwealth's "actual overriding purpose." 44 F. 3d, at 1247. That purpose, Judge Phillips said, was clear from the historical record; it was "not to create a new type of educational opportunity for women, . . . nor to further diversify the Commonwealth's higher education system[,] . . . but [was] simply . . . to allow VMI to continue to exclude women in order to preserve its historic character and mission." Ibid.
Judge Phillips suggested that the Commonwealth would satisfy the Constitution's equal protection requirement if it "simultaneously opened single-gender undergraduate institutions having substantially comparable curricular and extra-curricular programs, funding, physical plant, administration
The Fourth Circuit denied rehearing en banc. 52 F.3d 90 (1995). Circuit Judge Motz, joined by Circuit Judges Hall, Murnaghan, and Michael, filed a dissenting opinion.
The cross-petitions in this suit present two ultimate issues. First, does Virginia's exclusion of women from the educational opportunities provided by VMI—extraordinary opportunities for military training and civilian leadership development—deny to women "capable of all of the individual activities required of VMI cadets," 766 F. Supp., at 1412, the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment? Second, if VMI's "unique" situation, id. , at 1413—as Virginia's sole single-sex public institution of
We note, once again, the core instruction of this Court's pathmarking decisions in J. E. B. v. Alabama ex rel. T. B., 511 U.S. 127, 136-137, and n. 6 (1994), and Mississippi Univ. for Women, 458 U. S., at 724 (internal quotation marks omitted): Parties who seek to defend gender-based government action must demonstrate an "exceedingly persuasive justification" for that action.
Today's skeptical scrutiny of official action denying rights or opportunities based on sex responds to volumes of history. As a plurality of this Court acknowledged a generation ago, "our Nation has had a long and unfortunate history of sex discrimination." Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 684 (1973). Through a century plus three decades and more of that history, women did not count among voters composing "We the People";
In 1971, for the first time in our Nation's history, this Court ruled in favor of a woman who complained that her State had denied her the equal protection of its laws. Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71, 73 (holding unconstitutional Idaho Code prescription that, among "`several persons claiming and equally entitled to administer [a decedent's estate], males must be preferred to females' "). Since Reed, the Court has repeatedly recognized that neither federal nor state government acts compatibly with the equal protection principle when a law or official policy denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature—equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities. See, e. g., Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455, 462-463 (1981) (affirming invalidity of Louisiana law that made husband "head and master" of property jointly owned with his wife, giving him unilateral right to dispose of such property without his wife's consent); Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7 (1975) (invalidating Utah requirement that parents support boys until age 21, girls only until age 18).
Without equating gender classifications, for all purposes, to classifications based on race or national origin,
The heightened review standard our precedent establishes does not make sex a proscribed classification. Supposed "inherent differences" are no longer accepted as a ground for race or national origin classifications. See Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). Physical differences between men and women, however, are enduring: "[T]he two sexes are not fungible; a community made up exclusively of one [sex] is different from a community composed of both." Ballard v. United States, 329 U.S. 187, 193 (1946).
"Inherent differences" between men and women, we have come to appreciate, remain cause for celebration, but not for denigration of the members of either sex or for artificial constraints on an individual's opportunity. Sex classifications may be used to compensate women "for particular economic disabilities [they have] suffered," Califano v. Webster, 430 U.S. 313, 320 (1977) (per curiam), to "promot[e] equal employment opportunity," see California Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. v. Guerra, 479 U.S. 272, 289 (1987), to advance full development of the talent and capacities of our Nation's people.
Measuring the record in this case against the review standard just described, we conclude that Virginia has shown no "exceedingly persuasive justification" for excluding all women from the citizen-soldier training afforded by VMI. We therefore affirm the Fourth Circuit's initial judgment, which held that Virginia had violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Because the remedy proffered by Virginia—the Mary Baldwin VWIL program—does not cure the constitutional violation, i. e. , it does not provide equal opportunity, we reverse the Fourth Circuit's final judgment in this case.
The Fourth Circuit initially held that Virginia had advanced no state policy by which it could justify, under equal protection principles, its determination "to afford VMI's unique type of program to men and not to women." 976 F. 2d, at 892. Virginia challenges that "liability" ruling and asserts two justifications in defense of VMI's exclusion of
Single-sex education affords pedagogical benefits to at least some students, Virginia emphasizes, and that reality is uncontested in this litigation.
Mississippi Univ. for Women is immediately in point. There the State asserted, in justification of its exclusion of men from a nursing school, that it was engaging in "educational affirmative action" by "compensat[ing] for discrimination against women." 458 U. S., at 727. Undertaking a "searching analysis," id. , at 728, the Court found no close resemblance between "the alleged objective" and "the actual purpose underlying the discriminatory classification," id. , at 730. Pursuing a similar inquiry here, we reach the same conclusion.
Neither recent nor distant history bears out Virginia's alleged pursuit of diversity through single-sex educational options. In 1839, when the Commonwealth established VMI, a range of educational opportunities for men and women was scarcely contemplated. Higher education at the time was considered dangerous for women;
"[N]o struggle for the admission of women to a state university," a historian has recounted, "was longer drawn out, or developed more bitterness, than that at the University of Virginia." 2 T. Woody, A History of Women's Education in the United States 254 (1929) (History of Women's Education). In 1879, the State Senate resolved to look into the possibility of higher education for women, recognizing that Virginia "`has never, at any period of her history,' " provided for the higher education of her daughters, though she "`has liberally provided for the higher education of her sons.' " Ibid. (quoting 10 Educ. J. Va. 212 (1879)). Despite this recognition, no new opportunities were instantly open to women.
Virginia eventually provided for several women's seminaries and colleges. Farmville Female Seminary became a public institution in 1884. See supra, at 521, n. 2. Two women's schools, Mary Washington College and James Madison University, were founded in 1908; another, Radford University, was founded in 1910. 766 F. Supp., at 1418-1419. By the mid-1970's, all four schools had become coeducational. Ibid.
Debate concerning women's admission as undergraduates at the main university continued well past the century's midpoint. Familiar arguments were rehearsed. If women
Ultimately, in 1970, "the most prestigious institution of higher education in Virginia," the University of Virginia, introduced coeducation and, in 1972, began to admit women on an equal basis with men. See Kirstein v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Virginia, 309 F.Supp. 184, 186 (ED Va. 1970). A three-judge Federal District Court confirmed: "Virginia may not now deny to women, on the basis of sex, educational opportunities at the Charlottesville campus that are not afforded in other institutions operated by the [S]tate." Id. , at 187.
Virginia describes the current absence of public single-sex higher education for women as "an historical anomaly." Brief for Cross-Petitioners 30. But the historical record indicates action more deliberate than anomalous: First, protection of women against higher education; next, schools for women far from equal in resources and stature to schools for men; finally, conversion of the separate schools to coeducation. The state legislature, prior to the advent of this controversy, had repealed "[a]ll Virginia statutes requiring individual institutions to admit only men or women." 766 F. Supp., at 1419. And in 1990, an official commission, "legislatively established to chart the future goals of higher education in Virginia," reaffirmed the policy "`of affording broad access" while maintaining "autonomy and diversity.' " 976 F. 2d, at 898-899 (quoting Report of the Virginia Commission on the University of the 21st Century). Significantly, the commission reported:
This statement, the Court of Appeals observed, "is the only explicit one that we have found in the record in which the Commonwealth has expressed itself with respect to gender distinctions." Ibid.
Our 1982 decision in Mississippi Univ. for Women prompted VMI to reexamine its male-only admission policy. See 766 F. Supp., at 1427-1428. Virginia relies on that reexamination as a legitimate basis for maintaining VMI's single-sex character. See Reply Brief for Cross-Petitioners 6. A Mission Study Committee, appointed by the VMI Board of Visitors, studied the problem from October 1983 until May 1986, and in that month counseled against "change of VMI status as a single-sex college." See 766 F. Supp., at 1429 (internal quotation marks omitted). Whatever internal purpose the Mission Study Committee served—and however well meaning the framers of the report—we can hardly extract from that effort any commonwealth policy evenhandedly to advance diverse educational options. As the District Court observed, the Committee's analysis "primarily focuse[d] on anticipated difficulties in attracting females to VMI," and the report, overall, supplied "very little indication of how th[e] conclusion was reached." Ibid.
In sum, we find no persuasive evidence in this record that VMI's male-only admission policy "is in furtherance of a state policy of `diversity.' " See 976 F. 2d, at 899. No such policy, the Fourth Circuit observed, can be discerned from the movement of all other public colleges and universities in Virginia away from single-sex education. See ibid. That court also questioned "how one institution with autonomy, but with no authority over any other state institution, can give effect to a state policy of diversity among institutions." Ibid. A purpose genuinely to advance an array of educational
Virginia next argues that VMI's adversative method of training provides educational benefits that cannot be made available, unmodified, to women. Alterations to accommodate women would necessarily be "radical," so "drastic," Virginia asserts, as to transform, indeed "destroy," VMI's program. See Brief for Cross-Petitioners 34-36. Neither sex would be favored by the transformation, Virginia maintains: Men would be deprived of the unique opportunity currently available to them; women would not gain that opportunity because their participation would "eliminat[e] the very aspects of [the] program that distinguish [VMI] from . . . other institutions of higher education in Virginia." Id., at 34.
The District Court forecast from expert witness testimony, and the Court of Appeals accepted, that coeducation would materially affect "at least these three aspects of VMI's program—physical training, the absence of privacy, and the adversative approach." 976 F. 2d, at 896-897. And it is uncontested that women's admission would require accommodations, primarily in arranging housing assignments and physical training programs for female cadets. See Brief for Cross-Respondent 11, 29-30. It is also undisputed, however, that "the VMI methodology could be used to educate women." 852 F. Supp., at 481. The District Court even allowed that some women may prefer it to the methodology a women's college might pursue. See ibid. "[S]ome women, at least, would want to attend [VMI] if they had the opportunity," the District Court recognized, 766 F. Supp., at 1414, and "some women," the expert testimony established, "are
In support of its initial judgment for Virginia, a judgment rejecting all equal protection objections presented by the United States, the District Court made "findings" on "gender-based developmental differences." 766 F. Supp., at 1434-1435. These "findings" restate the opinions of Virginia's expert witnesses, opinions about typically male or typically female "tendencies." Id., at 1434. For example, "[m]ales tend to need an atmosphere of adversativeness," while "[f]emales tend to thrive in a cooperative atmosphere." Ibid. "I'm not saying that some women don't do well under [the] adversative model," VMI's expert on educational institutions testified, "undoubtedly there are some [women] who do"; but educational experiences must be designed "around the rule," this expert maintained, and not "around the exception." Ibid. (internal quotation marks omitted).
The United States does not challenge any expert witness estimation on average capacities or preferences of men and women. Instead, the United States emphasizes that time and again since this Court's turning point decision in Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971), we have cautioned reviewing courts to take a "hard look" at generalizations or "tendencies" of the kind pressed by Virginia, and relied upon by the District Court. See O'Connor, Portia's Progress, 66 N. Y. U. L. Rev. 1546, 1551 (1991). State actors controlling gates to opportunity, we have instructed, may not exclude qualified individuals based on "fixed notions concerning the roles and abilities of males and females." Mississippi Univ. for Women, 458 U. S., at 725; see J. E. B., 511 U. S., at 139, n. 11 (equal protection principles, as applied to gender classifications, mean
It may be assumed, for purposes of this decision, that most women would not choose VMI's adversative method. As Fourth Circuit Judge Motz observed, however, in her dissent from the Court of Appeals' denial of rehearing en banc, it is also probable that "many men would not want to be educated in such an environment." 52 F. 3d, at 93. (On that point, even our dissenting colleague might agree.) Education, to be sure, is not a "one size fits all" business. The issue, however, is not whether "women—or men—should be forced to attend VMI"; rather, the question is whether the Commonwealth can constitutionally deny to women who have the will and capacity, the training and attendant opportunities that VMI uniquely affords. Ibid.
The notion that admission of women would downgrade VMI's stature, destroy the adversative system and, with it, even the school,
A like fear, according to a 1925 report, accounted for Columbia Law School's resistance to women's admission, although
Medical faculties similarly resisted men and women as partners in the study of medicine. See R. Morantz-Sanchez, Sympathy and Science: Women Physicians in American Medicine 51-54, 250 (1985); see also M. Walsh, "Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply" 121-122 (1977) (quoting E. Clarke, Medical Education of Women, 4 Boston Med. & Surg. J. 345, 346 (1869) ("`God forbid that I should ever see men and women aiding each other to display with the scalpel the secrets of the reproductive system . . . .' ")); cf. supra, at 536-537, n. 9. More recently, women seeking careers in policing encountered resistance based on fears that their presence would "undermine male solidarity," see F. Heidensohn, Women in Control? 201 (1992); deprive male partners of adequate assistance, see id. , at 184-185; and lead to sexual misconduct, see C. Milton et al., Women in Policing 32-33 (1974). Field studies did not confirm these fears. See Heidensohn, supra, at 92-93; P. Bloch & D. Anderson, Policewomen on Patrol: Final Report (1974).
Women's successful entry into the federal military academies,
Virginia and VMI trained their argument on "means" rather than "end," and thus misperceived our precedent. Single-sex education at VMI serves an "important governmental objective," they maintained, and exclusion of women is not only "substantially related," it is essential to that objective. By this notably circular argument, the "straightforward" test Mississippi Univ. for Women described, see 458 U. S., at 724-725, was bent and bowed.
The Commonwealth's misunderstanding and, in turn, the District Court's, is apparent from VMI's mission: to produce "citizen-soldiers," individuals
Surely that goal is great enough to accommodate women, who today count as citizens in our American democracy equal in stature to men. Just as surely, the Commonwealth's
In the second phase of the litigation, Virginia presented its remedial plan—maintain VMI as a male-only college and create VWIL as a separate program for women. The plan met District Court approval. The Fourth Circuit, in turn, deferentially reviewed the Commonwealth's proposal and decided that the two single-sex programs directly served Virginia's reasserted purposes: single-gender education, and "achieving the results of an adversative method in a military environment." See 44 F. 3d, at 1236, 1239. Inspecting the VMI and VWIL educational programs to determine whether they "afford[ed] to both genders benefits comparable in substance, [if] not in form and detail," id., at 1240, the Court of Appeals concluded that Virginia had arranged for men and women opportunities "sufficiently comparable" to survive equal protection evaluation, id., at 1240-1241. The United States challenges this "remedial" ruling as pervasively misguided.
A remedial decree, this Court has said, must closely fit the constitutional violation; it must be shaped to place persons unconstitutionally denied an opportunity or advantage in "the position they would have occupied in the absence of [discrimination]." See Milliken v. Bradley, 433 U.S. 267, 280 (1977) (internal quotation marks omitted). The constitutional violation in this suit is the categorical exclusion of women from an extraordinary educational opportunity afforded men. A proper remedy for an unconstitutional exclusion, we have explained, aims to "eliminate [so far as possible] the discriminatory effects of the past" and to "bar like discrimination in the future." Louisiana v. United States, 380 U.S. 145, 154 (1965).
Virginia chose not to eliminate, but to leave untouched, VMI's exclusionary policy. For women only, however, Virginia proposed a separate program, different in kind from VMI and unequal in tangible and intangible facilities.
VWIL affords women no opportunity to experience the rigorous military training for which VMI is famed. See 766 F. Supp., at 1413-1414 ("No other school in Virginia or in the United States, public or private, offers the same kind of rigorous military training as is available at VMI."); id. , at 1421 (VMI "is known to be the most challenging military school in the United States"). Instead, the VWIL program "deemphasize[s]" military education, 44 F. 3d, at 1234, and uses a "cooperative method" of education "which reinforces self-esteem," 852 F. Supp., at 476.
VWIL students participate in ROTC and a "largely ceremonial" Virginia Corps of Cadets, see 44 F. 3d, at 1234, but Virginia deliberately did not make VWIL a military institute. The VWIL House is not a military-style residence and VWIL students need not live together throughout the 4-year program, eat meals together, or wear uniforms during the schoolday. See 852 F. Supp., at 477, 495. VWIL students thus do not experience the "barracks" life "crucial to the VMI experience," the spartan living arrangements designed to foster an "egalitarian ethic." See 766 F. Supp., at 1423-1424. "[T]he most important aspects of the VMI educational experience occur in the barracks," the District Court
VWIL students receive their "leadership training" in seminars, externships, and speaker series, see 852 F. Supp., at 477, episodes and encounters lacking the "[p]hysical rigor, mental stress, . .. minute regulation of behavior, and indoctrination in desirable values" made hallmarks of VMI's citizen-soldier training, see 766 F. Supp., at 1421.
Virginia maintains that these methodological differences are "justified pedagogically," based on "important differences between men and women in learning and developmental needs," "psychological and sociological differences" Virginia describes as "real" and "not stereotypes." Brief for Respondents 28 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Task Force charged with developing the leadership program for women, drawn from the staff and faculty at Mary Baldwin College, "determined that a military model and, especially VMI's adversative method, would be wholly inappropriate for educating and training most women. " 852 F. Supp., at 476 (emphasis added). See also 44 F. 3d, at 1233-1234 (noting Task Force conclusion that, while "some women would be suited to and interested in [a VMI-style experience]," VMI's adversative method "would not be effective for women as a group " (emphasis added)). The Commonwealth
As earlier stated, see supra, at 541-542, generalizations about "the way women are," estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description. Notably, Virginia never asserted that VMI's method of education suits most men. It is also revealing that Virginia accounted for its failure to make the VWIL experience "the entirely militaristic experience of VMI" on the ground that VWIL "is planned for women who do not necessarily expect to pursue military careers." 852 F. Supp., at 478. By that reasoning, VMI's "entirely militaristic" program would be inappropriate for men in general or as a group, for "[o]nly about 15% of VMI cadets enter career military service." See 766 F. Supp., at 1432.
In contrast to the generalizations about women on which Virginia rests, we note again these dispositive realities: VMI's "implementing methodology" is not "inherently unsuitable to women," 976 F. 2d, at 899; "some women . . . do well under [the] adversative model," 766 F. Supp., at 1434 (internal quotation marks omitted); "some women, at least, would want to attend [VMI] if they had the opportunity," id., at 1414; "some women are capable of all of the individual activities required of VMI cadets," id., at 1412, and "can meet the physical standards [VMI] now impose[s] on men," 976 F. 2d, at 896. It is on behalf of these women that the United States has instituted this suit, and it is for them that a remedy must be crafted,
In myriad respects other than military training, VWIL does not qualify as VMI's equal. VWIL's student body, faculty, course offerings, and facilities hardly match VMI's. Nor can the VWIL graduate anticipate the benefits associated with VMI's 157-year history, the school's prestige, and its influential alumni network.
Mary Baldwin College, whose degree VWIL students will gain, enrolls first-year women with an average combined SAT score about 100 points lower than the average score for VMI freshmen. 852 F. Supp., at 501. The Mary Baldwin faculty holds "significantly fewer Ph. D.'s," id. , at 502, and receives substantially lower salaries, see Tr. 158 (testimony of James Lott, Dean of Mary Baldwin College), than the faculty at VMI.
Mary Baldwin does not offer a VWIL student the range of curricular choices available to a VMI cadet. VMI awards baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts, biology, chemistry, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering. See 852 F. Supp., at 503; Virginia Military Institute: More than an Education 11 (Govt. exh. 75,
For physical training, Mary Baldwin has "two multipurpose fields" and "[o]ne gymnasium." Id. , at 503. VMI has "an NCAA competition level indoor track and field facility; a number of multi-purpose fields; baseball, soccer and lacrosse fields; an obstacle course; large boxing, wrestling and martial arts facilities; an 11-laps-to-the-mile indoor running course; an indoor pool; indoor and outdoor rifle ranges; and a football stadium that also contains a practice field and outdoor track." Ibid.
Although Virginia has represented that it will provide equal financial support for in-state VWIL students and VMI cadets, id. , at 483, and the VMI Foundation has agreed to endow VWIL with $5.4625 million, id. , at 499, the difference between the two schools' financial reserves is pronounced. Mary Baldwin's endowment, currently about $19 million, will gain an additional $35 million based on future commitments; VMI's current endowment, $131 million—the largest public college per-student endowment in the Nation—will gain $220 million. Id. , at 503.
The VWIL student does not graduate with the advantage of a VMI degree. Her diploma does not unite her with the legions of VMI "graduates [who] have distinguished themselves" in military and civilian life. See 976 F. 2d, at 892-893. "[VMI] alumni are exceptionally close to the school," and that closeness accounts, in part, for VMI's success in attracting applicants. See 766 F. Supp., at 1421. A VWIL graduate cannot assume that the "network of business owners, corporations, VMI graduates and non-graduate employers . . . interested in hiring VMI graduates," 852 F. Supp., at 499, will be equally responsive to her search for employment,
Virginia, in sum, while maintaining VMI for men only, has failed to provide any "comparable single-gender women's institution." Id. , at 1241. Instead, the Commonwealth has created a VWIL program fairly appraised as a "pale shadow" of VMI in terms of the range of curricular choices and faculty stature, funding, prestige, alumni support and influence. See id., at 1250 (Phillips, J., dissenting).
Virginia's VWIL solution is reminiscent of the remedy Texas proposed 50 years ago, in response to a state trial court's 1946 ruling that, given the equal protection guarantee, African-Americans could not be denied a legal education at a state facility. See Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950). Reluctant to admit African-Americans to its flagship University of Texas Law School, the State set up a separate school for Heman Sweatt and other black law students. Id. , at 632. As originally opened, the new school had no independent faculty or library, and it lacked accreditation. Id. , at 633. Nevertheless, the state trial and appellate courts were satisfied that the new school offered Sweatt opportunities for the study of law "substantially equivalent to those offered by the State to white students at the University of Texas." Id. , at 632 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Before this Court considered the case, the new school had gained "a faculty of five full-time professors; a student body of 23; a library of some 16,500 volumes serviced by a full-time staff; a practice court and legal aid association; and one alumnus who ha[d] become a member of the Texas Bar." Id. , at 633. This Court contrasted resources at the new school with those at the school from which Sweatt had been excluded. The University of Texas Law School had a full-time faculty of 16, a student body of 850, a library containing over
More important than the tangible features, the Court emphasized, are "those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness" in a school, including "reputation of the faculty, experience of the administration, position and influence of the alumni, standing in the community, traditions and prestige." Id. , at 634. Facing the marked differences reported in the Sweatt opinion, the Court unanimously ruled that Texas had not shown "substantial equality in the [separate] educational opportunities" the State offered. Id. , at 633. Accordingly, the Court held, the Equal Protection Clause required Texas to admit AfricanAmericans to the University of Texas Law School. Id. , at 636. In line with Sweatt, we rule here that Virginia has not shown substantial equality in the separate educational opportunities the Commonwealth supports at VWIL and VMI.
When Virginia tendered its VWIL plan, the Fourth Circuit did not inquire whether the proposed remedy, approved by the District Court, placed women denied the VMI advantage in "the position they would have occupied in the absence of [discrimination]." Milliken, 433 U. S., at 280 (internal quotation marks omitted). Instead, the Court of Appeals considered whether the Commonwealth could provide, with fidelity to the equal protection principle, separate and unequal educational programs for men and women.
The Fourth Circuit acknowledged that "the VWIL degree from Mary Baldwin College lacks the historical benefit and prestige of a degree from VMI." 44 F. 3d, at 1241. The Court of Appeals further observed that VMI is "an ongoing and successful institution with a long history," and there remains no "comparable single-gender women's institution." Ibid. Nevertheless, the appeals court declared the substantially different and significantly unequal VWIL program satisfactory.
We have earlier described the deferential review in which the Court of Appeals engaged, see supra, at 528-529, a brand of review inconsistent with the more exacting standard our precedent requires, see supra, at 532-534. Quoting in part from Mississippi Univ. for Women, the Court of Appeals candidly described its own analysis as one capable of checking a legislative purpose ranked as "pernicious," but generally according "deference to [the] legislative will." 44 F. 3d, at 1235, 1236. Recognizing that it had extracted from our decisions a test yielding "little or no scrutiny of the effect of a classification directed at [single-gender education]," the Court of Appeals devised another test, a "substantive comparability" inquiry, id., at 1237, and proceeded to find that new test satisfied, id. , at 1241.
The Fourth Circuit plainly erred in exposing Virginia's VWIL plan to a deferential analysis, for "all gender-based classifications today" warrant "heightened scrutiny." See J. E. B., 511 U. S., at 136. Valuable as VWIL may prove for students who seek the program offered, Virginia's remedy affords no cure at all for the opportunities and advantages withheld from women who want a VMI education and can make the grade. See supra, at 549-554.
A generation ago, "the authorities controlling Virginia higher education," despite long established tradition, agreed "to innovate and favorably entertain[ed] the [then] relatively new idea that there must be no discrimination by sex in offering educational opportunity." Kirstein, 309 F. Supp., at 186. Commencing in 1970, Virginia opened to women "educational opportunities at the Charlottesville campus that [were] not afforded in other [state-operated] institutions." Id., at 187; see supra, at 538. A federal court approved the Commonwealth's innovation, emphasizing that the University of Virginia "offer[ed] courses of instruction . . . not available elsewhere." 309 F. Supp., at 187. The court further noted: "[T]here exists at Charlottesville a `prestige' factor
VMI, too, offers an educational opportunity no other Virginia institution provides, and the school's "prestige"—associated with its success in developing "citizen-soldiers"—is unequaled. Virginia has closed this facility to its daughters and, instead, has devised for them a "parallel program," with a faculty less impressively credentialed and less well paid, more limited course offerings, fewer opportunities for military training and for scientific specialization. Cf. Sweatt, 339 U. S., at 633. VMI, beyond question, "possesses to a far greater degree" than the VWIL program "those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a . . . school," including "position and influence of the alumni, standing in the community, traditions and prestige." Id., at 634. Women seeking and fit for a VMI-quality education cannot be offered anything less, under the Commonwealth's obligation to afford them genuinely equal protection.
A prime part of the history of our Constitution, historian Richard Morris recounted, is the story of the extension of constitutional rights and protections to people once ignored or excluded.
* * *
For the reasons stated, the initial judgment of the Court of Appeals, 976 F.2d 890 (CA4 1992), is affirmed, the final judgment of the Court of Appeals, 44 F.3d 1229 (CA4 1995), is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
Justice Thomas took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
Chief Justice Rehnquist, concurring in the judgment.
The Court holds first that Virginia violates the Equal Protection Clause by maintaining the Virginia Military Institute's (VMI's) all-male admissions policy, and second that establishing the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL) program does not remedy that violation. While I agree with these conclusions, I disagree with the Court's analysis and so I write separately.
Two decades ago in Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 197 (1976), we announced that "[t]o withstand constitutional challenge, . . . classifications by gender must serve important governmental objectives and must be substantially related to achievement of those objectives." We have adhered to that standard of scrutiny ever since. See Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199, 210-211 (1977); Califano v. Webster, 430 U.S. 313, 316-317 (1977); Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268, 279 (1979); Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380, 388 (1979); Davis v. Passman, 442 U.S. 228, 234-235, 235, n. 9 (1979); Personnel Administrator of Mass. v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 273 (1979);
While terms like "important governmental objective" and "substantially related" are hardly models of precision, they have more content and specificity than does the phrase "exceedingly persuasive justification." That phrase is best confined, as it was first used, as an observation on the difficulty of meeting the applicable test, not as a formulation of the test itself. See, e. g., Feeney, supra, at 273 ("[T]hese precedents dictate that any state law overtly or covertly designed to prefer males over females in public employment require an exceedingly persuasive justification"). To avoid introducing potential confusion, I would have adhered more closely to our traditional, "firmly established," Hogan, supra, at 723; Heckler, supra, at 744, standard that a gender-based classification "must bear a close and substantial relationship to important governmental objectives." Feeney, supra, at 273.
Our cases dealing with gender discrimination also require that the proffered purpose for the challenged law be the actual purpose. See ante, at 533, 535-536. It is on this ground that the Court rejects the first of two justifications Virginia offers for VMI's single-sex admissions policy, namely, the goal of diversity among its public educational institutions. While I ultimately agree that the Commonwealth
VMI was founded in 1839, and, as the Court notes, ante, at 536-537, admission was limited to men because under the then-prevailing view men, not women, were destined for higher education. However misguided this point of view may be by present-day standards, it surely was not unconstitutional in 1839. The adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, with its Equal Protection Clause, was nearly 30 years in the future. The interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause to require heightened scrutiny for gender discrimination was yet another century away.
Long after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, and well into this century, legal distinctions between men and women were thought to raise no question under the Equal Protection Clause. The Court refers to our decision in Goesaert v. Cleary, 335 U.S. 464 (1948). Likewise representing that now abandoned view was Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57 (1961), where the Court upheld a Florida system of jury selection in which men were automatically placed on jury lists, but women were placed there only if they expressed an affirmative desire to serve. The Court noted that despite advances in women's opportunities, the "woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life." Id. , at 62.
Then, in 1971, we decided Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71, which the Court correctly refers to as a seminal case. But its facts have nothing to do with admissions to any sort of educational institution. An Idaho statute governing the administration of estates and probate preferred men to women if the other statutory qualifications were equal. The statute's purpose, according to the Idaho Supreme Court, was to avoid hearings to determine who was better qualified as between a man and a woman both applying for letters of administration. This Court held that such a rule violated the Fourteenth Amendment because "a mandatory preference to members of either
Even at the time of our decision in Reed v. Reed, therefore, Virginia and VMI were scarcely on notice that its holding would be extended across the constitutional board. They were entitled to believe that "one swallow doesn't make a summer" and await further developments. Those developments were 11 years in coming. In Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, supra, a case actually involving a singlesex admissions policy in higher education, the Court held that the exclusion of men from a nursing program violated the Equal Protection Clause. This holding did place Virginia on notice that VMI's men-only admissions policy was open to serious question.
The VMI Board of Visitors, in response, appointed a Mission Study Committee to examine "the legality and wisdom of VMI's single-sex policy in light of" Hogan. 766 F.Supp. 1407, 1427 (WD Va. 1991). But the committee ended up cryptically recommending against changing VMI's status as a single-sex college. After three years of study, the committee found "`no information' " that would warrant a change in VMI's status. Id. , at 1429. Even the District Court, ultimately sympathetic to VMI's position, found that "[t]he Report provided very little indication of how [its] conclusion was reached" and that "[t]he one and one-half pages in the committee's final report devoted to analyzing the information it obtained primarily focuses on anticipated difficulties in attracting females to VMI." Ibid. The reasons given in the report for not changing the policy were the changes that admission of women to VMI would require, and the likely effect of those changes on the institution. That VMI would have to change is simply not helpful in addressing the constitutionality of the status after Hogan.
Even if diversity in educational opportunity were the Commonwealth's actual objective, the Commonwealth's position would still be problematic. The difficulty with its position is that the diversity benefited only one sex; there was single-sex public education available for men at VMI, but no corresponding single-sex public education available for women. When Hogan placed Virginia on notice that
I do not think, however, that the Commonwealth's options were as limited as the majority may imply. The Court cites, without expressly approving it, a statement from the opinion of the dissenting judge in the Court of Appeals, to the effect that the Commonwealth could have "simultaneously opened single-gender undergraduate institutions having substantially comparable curricular and extra-curricular programs, funding, physical plant, administration and support services, and faculty and library resources." Ante, at 529-530 (internal quotation marks omitted). If this statement is thought to exclude other possibilities, it is too stringent a requirement. VMI had been in operation for over a century and a half, and had an established, successful, and devoted group of alumni. No legislative wand could instantly call into existence a similar institution for women; and it would be a tremendous loss to scrap VMI's history and tradition. In the words of Grover Cleveland's second inaugural address, the Commonwealth faced a condition, not a theory. And it was a condition that had been brought about, not through defiance of decisions construing gender bias under the Equal Protection Clause, but, until the decision in Hogan, a condition that had not appeared to offend the Constitution. Had Virginia made a genuine effort to devote comparable public resources to a facility for women, and followed through on such a plan, it might well have avoided an equal protection violation. I do not believe the Commonwealth was faced with the stark choice of either admitting women to VMI, on the
But, as I have noted, neither the governing board of VMI nor the Commonwealth took any action after 1982. If diversity in the form of single-sex, as well as coeducational, institutions of higher learning were to be available to Virginians, that diversity had to be available to women as well as to men.
The dissent criticizes me for "disregarding the four allwomen's private colleges in Virginia (generously assisted by public funds)." Post, at 595. The private women's colleges are treated by the Commonwealth exactly as all other private schools are treated, which includes the provision of tuition-assistance grants to Virginia residents. Virginia gives no special support to the women's single-sex education. But obviously, the same is not true for men's education. Had the Commonwealth provided the kind of support for the private women's schools that it provides for VMI, this may have been a very different case. For in so doing, the Commonwealth would have demonstrated that its interest in providing a single-sex education for men was to some measure matched by an interest in providing the same opportunity for women.
Virginia offers a second justification for the single-sex admissions policy: maintenance of the adversative method. I agree with the Court that this justification does not serve an important governmental objective. A State does not have substantial interest in the adversative methodology unless it is pedagogically beneficial. While considerable evidence shows that a single-sex education is pedagogically beneficial for some students, see 766 F. Supp., at 1414, and hence a State may have a valid interest in promoting that methodology, there is no similar evidence in the record that an adversative method is pedagogically beneficial or is any more likely to produce character traits than other methodologies.
The Court defines the constitutional violation in these cases as "the categorical exclusion of women from an extraordinary educational opportunity afforded to men." Ante, at 547. By defining the violation in this way, and by emphasizing that a remedy for a constitutional violation must place the victims ofdiscrimination in "`the position they would have occupied in the absence of [discrimination],' " ibid. , the Court necessarily implies that the only adequate remedy would be the admission of women to the allmale institution. As the foregoing discussion suggests, I would not define the violation in this way; it is not the "exclusion of women" that violates the Equal Protection Clause, but the maintenance of an all-men school without providing any—much less a comparable—institution for women.
Accordingly, the remedy should not necessarily require either the admission of women to VMI or the creation of a VMI clone for women. An adequate remedy in my opinion might be a demonstration by Virginia that its interest in educating men in a single-sex environment is matched by its interest in educating women in a single-sex institution. To demonstrate such, the Commonwealth does not need to create two institutions with the same number of faculty Ph. D.'s, similar SAT scores, or comparable athletic fields. See ante, at 551-552. Nor would it necessarily require that the women's institution offer the same curriculum as the men's; one could be strong in computer science, the other could be strong in liberal arts. It would be a sufficient remedy, I think, if the two institutions offered the same quality of education and were of the same overall caliber.
If a State decides to create single-sex programs, the State would, I expect, consider the public's interest and demand in designing curricula. And rightfully so. But the State should avoid assuming demand based on stereotypes; it must not assume a priori, without evidence, that there would be
In the end, the women's institution Virginia proposes, VWIL, fails as a remedy, because it is distinctly inferior to the existing men's institution and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. VWIL simply is not, in any sense, the institution that VMI is. In particular, VWIL is a program appended to a private college, not a self-standing institution; and VWIL is substantially underfunded as compared to VMI. I therefore ultimately agree with the Court that Virginia has not provided an adequate remedy.
Justice Scalia, dissenting.
Today the Court shuts down an institution that has served the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia with pride and distinction for over a century and a half. To achieve that desired result, it rejects (contrary to our established practice) the factual findings of two courts below, sweeps aside the precedents of this Court, and ignores the history of our people. As to facts: It explicitly rejects the finding that there exist "gender-based developmental differences" supporting Virginia's restriction of the "adversative" method to only a men's institution, and the finding that the all-male composition of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is essential to that institution's character. As to precedent: It drastically revises our established standards for reviewing sex-based classifications. And as to history: It counts for nothing the long tradition, enduring down to the present, of men's military colleges supported by both States and the Federal Government.
Much of the Court's opinion is devoted to deprecating the closed-mindedness of our forebears with regard to women's education, and even with regard to the treatment of women in areas that have nothing to do with education. Closedminded they were—as every age is, including our own, with regard to matters it cannot guess, because it simply does not
I shall devote most of my analysis to evaluating the Court's opinion on the basis of our current equal protection jurisprudence, which regards this Court as free to evaluate everything under the sun by applying one of three tests: "rational basis" scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, or strict scrutiny. These tests are no more scientific than their names suggest, and a further element of randomness is added by the fact that it is largely up to us which test will be applied in each case. Strict scrutiny, we have said, is reserved for state "classifications based on race or national origin and classifications affecting fundamental rights," Clark v. Jeter, 486 U.S. 456, 461 (1988) (citation omitted). It is my position that the term "fundamental rights" should be limited to "interest[s] traditionally protected by our society," Michael H.
I have no problem with a system of abstract tests such as rational basis, intermediate, and strict scrutiny (though I think we can do better than applying strict scrutiny and intermediate scrutiny whenever we feel like it). Such formulas are essential to evaluating whether the new restrictions that a changing society constantly imposes upon private conduct comport with that "equal protection" our society has always accorded in the past. But in my view the function of this Court is to preserve our society's values regarding (among other things) equal protection, not to revise them; to prevent backsliding from the degree of restriction the Constitution imposed upon democratic government, not to prescribe, on our own authority, progressively higher degrees. For that reason it is my view that, whatever abstract tests we may choose to devise, they cannot supersede—and indeed ought to be crafted so as to reflect —those constant and unbroken national traditions that embody the people's understanding of ambiguous constitutional texts. More specifically, it is my view that "when a practice not expressly prohibited by the text of the Bill of Rights bears the endorsement of a long tradition of open, widespread, and unchallenged use that dates back to the beginning of the Republic, we have no proper basis for striking it down." Rutan v. Republican Party of Ill., 497 U.S. 62, 95 (1990) (Scalia, J.,
The all-male constitution of VMI comes squarely within such a governing tradition. Founded by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1839 and continuously maintained by it since, VMI has always admitted only men. And in that regard it has not been unusual. For almost all of VMI's more than a century and a half of existence, its single-sex status reflected the uniform practice for government-supported military colleges. Another famous Southern institution, The Citadel, has existed as a state-funded school of South Carolina since 1842. And all the federal military colleges—West Point, the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and even the Air Force Academy, which was not established until 1954—admitted only males for most of their history. Their admission of women in 1976 (upon which the Court today relies, see ante, at 544-545, nn. 13, 15) came not by court decree, but because the people, through their elected representatives, decreed a change. See, e. g., § 803(a), 89 Stat. 537, note following 10 U. S. C. § 4342. In other words, the tradition of having government-funded military schools for men is as well rooted in the traditions of this country as the tradition of sending only men into military combat. The people may decide to change the one tradition, like the other, through democratic processes; but the assertion that either tradition has been unconstitutional through the centuries is not law, but politics-smuggled-into-law.
And the same applies, more broadly, to single-sex education in general, which, as I shall discuss, is threatened by
Today, however, change is forced upon Virginia, and reversion to single-sex education is prohibited nationwide, not by democratic processes but by order of this Court. Even while bemoaning the sorry, bygone days of "fixed notions" concerning women's education, see ante, at 536-537, and n. 10, 537-539, 542-544, the Court favors current notions so fixedly that it is willing to write them into the Constitution of the United States by application of custom-built "tests." This is not the interpretation of a Constitution, but the creation of one.
To reject the Court's disposition today, however, it is not necessary to accept my view that the Court's made-up tests cannot displace longstanding national traditions as the primary determinant of what the Constitution means. It is only necessary to apply honestly the test the Court has been applying to sex-based classifications for the past two decades. It is well settled, as Justice O'Connor stated some time ago for a unanimous Court, that we evaluate a statutory classification based on sex under a standard that lies "[b]etween th[e] extremes of rational basis review and strict scrutiny." Clark v. Jeter, 486 U. S., at 461. We have denominated this standard "intermediate scrutiny" and under it have inquired whether the statutory classification is "substantially
Before I proceed to apply this standard to VMI, I must comment upon the manner in which the Court avoids doing so. Notwithstanding our above-described precedents and their "`firmly established principles,' " Heckler, supra, at 744 (quoting Hogan, supra, at 723), the United States urged us to hold in this litigation "that strict scrutiny is the correct constitutional standard for evaluating classifications that deny opportunities to individuals based on their sex." Brief for United States in No. 94-2107, p. 16. (This was in flat contradiction of the Government's position below, which was, in its own words, to "stat[e] unequivocally that the appropriate standard in this case is `intermediate scrutiny.' " 2 Record, Doc. No. 88, p. 3 (emphasis added).) The Court, while making no reference to the Government's argument, effectively accepts it.
Although the Court in two places recites the test as stated in Hogan, see ante, at 524, 532-533, which asks whether the State has demonstrated "that the classification serves important governmental objectives and that the discriminatory means employed are substantially related to the achievement of those objectives," 458 U. S., at 724 (internal quotation marks omitted), the Court never answers the question presented in anything resembling that form. When it engages in analysis, the Court instead prefers the phrase "exceedingly persuasive justification" from Hogan. The Court's nine invocations of that phrase, see ante, at 524, 529, 530, 531, 533, 534, 545, 546, 556, and even its fanciful description of that imponderable as "the core instruction" of the Court's decisions in J. E. B. v. Alabama ex rel. T. B., supra, and Hogan, supra, see ante, at 531, would be unobjectionable if the Court acknowledged that whether a "justification" is "exceedingly persuasive" must be assessed by asking
That is essential to the Court's result, which can only be achieved by establishing that intermediate scrutiny is not survived if there are some women interested in attending VMI, capable of undertaking its activities, and able to meet its physical demands. Thus, the Court summarizes its holding as follows:
Similarly, the Court states that "[t]he Commonwealth's justification for excluding all women from `citizen-soldier' training for which some are qualified . . . cannot rank as `exceedingly persuasive' . . . ." Ante, at 545.
Not content to execute a de facto abandonment of the intermediate scrutiny that has been our standard for sex-based classifications for some two decades, the Court purports to reserve the question whether, even in principle, a higher standard (i. e., strict scrutiny) should apply. "The Court has," it says, "thus far reserved most stringent judicial scrutiny for classifications based on race or national origin . . . ," ante, at 532, n. 6 (emphasis added); and it describes our earlier cases as having done no more than decline to "equat[e] gender classifications, for all purposes, to classifications based on race or national origin," ante, at 532 (emphasis added). The wonderful thing about these statements is that they are not actually false—just as it would not be actually false to say that "our cases have thus far reserved the `beyond a reasonable doubt' standard of proof for criminal cases," or that "we have not equated tort actions, for all purposes, to criminal prosecutions." But the statements are misleading, insofar as they suggest that we have not already categorically held strict scrutiny to be inapplicable to sexbased classifications. See, e. g., Heckler v. Mathews, 465 U.S. 728 (1984) (upholding state action after applying only intermediate scrutiny); Michael M. v. Superior Court, Somoma Cty., 450 U.S. 464 (1981) (plurality and both concurring opinions) (same); Califano v. Webster, supra (per curiam) (same). And the statements are irresponsible, insofar as they are calculated to destabilize current law. Our task is to clarify the law—not to muddy the waters, and not to exact overcompliance by intimidation. The States and the Federal Government are entitled to know before they act the standard to which they will be held, rather than be compelled to guess about the outcome of Supreme Court peek-a-boo.
The Court's intimations are particularly out of place because it is perfectly clear that, if the question of the applicable
It is hard to consider women a "discrete and insular minorit[y]" unable to employ the "political processes ordinarily to be relied upon," when they constitute a majority of the electorate. And the suggestion that they are incapable of exerting that political power smacks of the same paternalism that the Court so roundly condemns. See, e. g., ante, at 536-537, 542-546 (and accompanying notes). Moreover, a long list of legislation proves the proposition false. See, e. g., Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U. S. C. § 206(d); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-2; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U. S. C. § 1681; Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988, Pub. L. 100-533, 102 Stat. 2689;
With this explanation of how the Court has succeeded in making its analysis seem orthodox—and indeed, if intimations are to be believed, even overly generous to VMI—I now proceed to describe how the analysis should have been conducted. The question to be answered, I repeat, is whether the exclusion of women from VMI is "substantially related to an important governmental objective."
It is beyond question that Virginia has an important state interest in providing effective college education for itscitizens. That single-sex instruction is an approach substantially related to that interest should be evident enough from the long and continuing history in this country of men's and women's colleges. But beyond that, as the Court of Appeals here stated: "That single-gender education at the college level is beneficial to both sexes is a fact established in this case. " 44 F.3d 1229, 1238 (CA4 1995) (emphasis added).
The evidence establishing that fact was overwhelming— indeed, "virtually uncontradicted" in the words of the court that received the evidence, 766 F.Supp. 1407, 1415 (WD Va. 1991). As an initial matter, Virginia demonstrated at trial that "[a] substantial body of contemporary scholarship and research supports the proposition that, although males and females have significant areas of developmental overlap, they also have differing developmental needs that are deepseated." Id., at 1434. While no one questioned that for many students a coeducational environment was nonetheless not inappropriate, that could not obscure the demonstrated benefits of single-sex colleges. For example, the District Court stated as follows:
See also id., at 1434-1435 (factual findings). "[I]n the light of this very substantial authority favoring single-sex education," the District Court concluded that "the VMI Board's decision to maintain an all-male institution is fully justified even without taking into consideration the other unique features of VMI's teaching and training." Id., at 1412. This finding alone, which even this Court cannot dispute, see ante, at 535, should be sufficient to demonstrate the constitutionality of VMI's all-male composition.
But besides its single-sex constitution, VMI is different from other colleges in another way. It employs a "distinctive educational method," sometimes referred to as the "adversative, or doubting, model of education." 766 F. Supp., at 1413, 1421. "Physical rigor, mental stress, absolute equality of treatment, absence of privacy, minute regulation of behavior, and indoctrination in desirable values are the salient attributes of the VMI educational experience." Id., at 1421. No one contends that this method is appropriate for all individuals; education is not a "one size fits all" business. Just as a State may wish to support junior colleges, vocational institutes, or a law school that emphasizes case
There can be no serious dispute that, as the District Court found, single-sex education and a distinctive educational method "represent legitimate contributions to diversity in the Virginia higher education system." Ibid. As a theoretical matter, Virginia's educational interest would have been best served (insofar as the two factors we have mentioned are concerned) by six different types of public colleges—an all-men's, an all-women's, and a coeducational college run in the "adversative method," and an all-men's, an all-women's, and a coeducational college run in the "traditional method." But as a practical matter, of course, Virginia's financial resources, like any State's, are not limitless, and the Commonwealth must select among the available options. Virginia thus has decided to fund, in addition to some 14 coeducational 4-year colleges, one college that is run as an all-male school on the adversative model: the Virginia Military Institute.
Virginia did not make this determination regarding the make-up of its public college system on the unrealistic assumption that no other colleges exist. Substantial evidence in the District Court demonstrated that the Commonwealth has long proceeded on the principle that "`[h]igher education resources should be viewed as a whole—public and private'
The Court today has no adequate response to this clear demonstration of the conclusion produced by application of intermediate scrutiny. Rather, it relies on a series of contentions that are irrelevant or erroneous as a matter of law, foreclosed by the record in this litigation, or both.
1. I have already pointed out the Court's most fundamental error, which is its reasoning that VMI's all-male composition is unconstitutional because "some women are capable of all of the individual activities required of VMI cadets," 766 F. Supp., at 1412, and would prefer military training on the adversative model. See supra, at 571-574. This unacknowledged adoption of what amounts to (at least) strict scrutiny is without antecedent in our sex-discrimination cases and by itself discredits the Court's decision.
2. The Court suggests that Virginia's claimed purpose in maintaining VMI as an all-male institution—its asserted interest in promoting diversity of educational options—is not "genuin[e]," but is a pretext for discriminating against women. Ante, at 539; see ante, at 535-540. To support this
The Court also supports its analysis of Virginia's "actual state purposes" in maintaining VMI's student body as all male by stating that there is no explicit statement in the record "`in which the Commonwealth has expressed itself' " concerning those purposes. Ante, at 535, 539 (quoting 976 F.2d 890, 899 (CA4 1992)); see also ante, at 525. That is wrong on numerous grounds. First and foremost, in its implication that such an explicit statement of "actual purposes"
It is, moreover, not true that Virginia's contemporary reasons for maintaining VMI are not explicitly recorded. It is hard to imagine a more authoritative source on this subject than the 1990 Report of the Virginia Commission on the University of the 21st Century (1990 Report). As the parties stipulated, that report "notes that the hallmarks of Virginia's educational policy are `diversity and autonomy.' " Stipulations
Finally, the Court unreasonably suggests that there is some pretext in Virginia's reliance upon decentralized decisionmaking
Ultimately, in fact, the Court does not deny the evidence supporting these findings. See ante, at 541-546. It instead makes evident that the parties to this litigation could have saved themselves a great deal of time, trouble, and expense by omitting a trial. The Court simply dispenses with the evidence submitted at trial—it never says that a single finding of the District Court is clearly erroneous—in favor of the Justices' own view of the world, which the Court proceeds to support with (1) references to observations of someone
It is not too much to say that this approach to the litigation has rendered the trial a sham. But treating the evidence as irrelevant is absolutely necessary for the Court to reach its conclusion. Not a single witness contested, for example, Virginia's "substantial body of `exceedingly persuasive' evidence . . . that some students, both male and female, benefit from attending a single-sex college" and "[that] [f]or those students, the opportunity to attend a single-sex college is a valuable one, likely to lead to better academic and professional achievement." 766 F. Supp., at 1411-1412. Even the United States' expert witness "called himself a `believer in single-sex education,' " although it was his "personal, philosophical preference," not one "born of educational-benefit considerations," "that single-sex education should be provided only by the private sector." Id., at 1412.
4. The Court contends that Virginia, and the District Court, erred, and "misperceived our precedent," by "train[ing] their argument on `means' rather than `end,' " ante, at 545. The Court focuses on "VMI's mission," which is to produce individuals "imbued with love of learning, confident in the functions and attitudes of leadership, possessing a high sense of public service, advocates of the American democracy and free enterprise system, and ready . . . to defend their country in time of national peril." 766 F. Supp., at 1425 (quoting Mission Study Committee of the VMI Board of
This is lawmaking by indirection. What the Court describes as "VMI's mission" is no less the mission of all Virginia colleges. Which of them would the Old Dominion continue to fund if they did not aim to create individuals "imbued with love of learning, etc.," right down to being ready "to defend their country in time of national peril"? It can be summed up as "learning, leadership, and patriotism." To be sure, those general educational values are described in a particularly martial fashion in VMI's mission statement, in accordance with the military, adversative, and all-male character of the institution. But imparting those values in that fashion —i. e., in a military, adversative, all-male environment—is the distinctive mission of VMI. And as I have discussed (and both courts below found), that mission is not "great enough to accommodate women."
The Court's analysis at least has the benefit of producing foreseeable results. Applied generally, it means that whenever a State's ultimate objective is "great enough to accommodate women" (as it always will be), then the State will be held to have violated the Equal Protection Clause if it restricts to men even one means by which it pursues that objective—no matter how few women are interested in pursuing the objective by that means, no matter how much the single-sex program will have to be changed if both sexes are admitted, and no matter how beneficial that program has theretofore been to its participants.
5. The Court argues that VMI would not have to change very much if it were to admit women. See, e. g., ante, at 540-542. The principal response to that argument is that it is irrelevant: If VMI's single-sex status is substantially related to the government's important educational objectives, as I have demonstrated above and as the Court refuses to discuss,
But if such a debate were relevant, the Court would certainly be on the losing side. The District Court found as follows: "[T]he evidence establishes that key elements of the adversative VMI educational system, with its focus on barracks life, would be fundamentally altered, and the distinctive ends of the system would be thwarted, if VMI were forced to admit females and to make changes necessary to accommodate their needs and interests." 766 F. Supp., at 1411. Changes that the District Court's detailed analysis found would be required include new allowances for personal privacy in the barracks, such as locked doors and coverings on windows, which would detract from VMI's approach of regulating minute details of student behavior, "contradict the principle that everyone is constantly subject to scrutiny by everyone else," and impair VMI's "total egalitarian approach" under which every student must be "treated alike"; changes in the physical training program, which would reduce "[t]he intensity and aggressiveness of the current program"; and various modifications in other respects of the adversative training program that permeates student life. See id., at 1412-1413, 1435-1443. As the Court of Appeals summarized it, "the record supports the district court's findings that at least these three aspects of VMI's program— physical training, the absence of privacy, and the adversative approach—would be materially affected by coeducation, leading to a substantial change in the egalitarian ethos that is a critical aspect of VMI's training." 976 F. 2d, at 896-897.
In the face of these findings by two courts below, amply supported by the evidence, and resulting in the conclusion that VMI would be fundamentally altered if it admitted women, this Court simply pronounces that "[t]he notion that
Although there is no precise female-only analogue to VMI, Virginia has created during this litigation the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership (VWIL), a state-funded all-women's program run by Mary Baldwin College. I have thus far said nothing about VWIL because it is, under our established test, irrelevant, so long as VMI `s all-male character is "substantially related" to an important state goal. But VWIL now exists, and the Court's treatment of it shows how far reaching today's decision is.
VWIL was carefully designed by professional educators who have long experience in educating young women. The program rejects the proposition that there is a "difference in the respective spheres and destinies of man and woman," Bradwell v. State, 16 Wall. 130, 141 (1873), and is designed to "provide an all-female program that will achieve substantially similar outcomes [to VMI's] in an all-female environment," 852 F.Supp. 471, 481 (WD Va. 1994). After holding a trial where voluminous evidence was submitted and making detailed findings of fact, the District Court concluded that "there is a legitimate pedagogical basis for the different means employed [by VMI and VWIL] to achieve the substantially
It is worth noting that none of the United States' own experts in the remedial phase of this litigation was willing to testify that VMI's adversative method was an appropriate methodology for educating women. This Court, however, does not care. Even though VWIL was carefully designed by professional educators who have tremendous experience in the area, and survived the test of adversarial litigation, the Court simply declares, with no basis in the evidence, that
A few words are appropriate in response to the concurrence, which finds VMI unconstitutional on a basis that is more moderate than the Court's but only at the expense of being even more implausible. The concurrence offers three reasons: First, that there is "scant evidence in the record," ante, at 562, that diversity of educational offering was the real reason for Virginia's maintaining VMI. "Scant" has the advantage of being an imprecise term. I have cited the clearest statements of diversity as a goal for higher education in the 1990 Report, the 1989 Virginia Plan for Higher Education, the Budget Initiatives prepared in 1989 by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the 1974 Report of the General Assembly Commission on Higher Education to the General Assembly of Virginia, and the 1969 Report of the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision. See supra, at 579, 581-582, and n. 2, 583, n. 3. There is no evidence to the contrary, once one rejects (as the concurrence rightly does) the relevance of VMI's founding in days when attitudes toward the education of women were different. Is this conceivably not enough to foreclose rejecting as clearly erroneous the District Court's determination regarding "the Commonwealth's objective of educational diversity"? 766 F. Supp., at 1413. Especially since it is absurd on its face even to demand "evidence" to prove that the Commonwealth's reason for maintaining a men's military academy is that a men's military academy provides a distinctive type of educational experience (i. e., fosters diversity). What other purpose would the Commonwealth have? One may argue, as the Court does, that this type of diversity is designed only to indulge hostility toward women—but that is a separate point, explicitly rejected by the concurrence, and amply refuted by the evidence I have mentioned in discussing
Second, the concurrence dismisses out of hand what it calls Virginia's "second justification for the single-sex admissions policy: maintenance of the adversative method." Ante, at 564. The concurrence reasons that "this justification does not serve an important governmental objective" because, whatever the record may show about the pedagogical benefits of single-sex education, "there is no similar evidence in the record that an adversative method is pedagogically beneficial or is any more likely to produce character traits than other methodologies." Ibid. That is simply wrong. See, e. g., 766 F. Supp., at 1426 (factual findings concerning character traits produced by VMI's adversative methodology); id. , at 1434 (factual findings concerning benefits for many college-age men of an adversative approach in general). In reality, the pedagogical benefits of VMI's adversative approach were not only proved, but were a given in this litigation. The reason the woman applicant who prompted this suit wanted to enter VMI was assuredly not that she wanted to go to an all-male school; it would cease being all-male as
A third reason the concurrence offers in support of the judgment is that the Commonwealth and VMI were not quick enough to react to the "further developments" in this Court's evolving jurisprudence. Ante, at 561. Specifically, the concurrence believes it should have been clear after Hogan that "[t]he difficulty with [Virginia's] position is that the diversity benefited only one sex; there was single-sex public education available for men at VMI, but no corresponding single-sex public education available for women." Ante, at 562. If only, the concurrence asserts, Virginia had "made a genuine effort to devote comparable public resources to a facility for women, and followed through on such a plan, it might well have avoided an equal protection violation." Ante, at 563. That is to say, the concurrence believes that after our decision in Hogan (which held a program of the Mississippi University for Women to be unconstitutional—without any reliance on the fact that there was no corresponding Mississippi all-men's program), the Commonwealth should have known that what this Court expected of it was . . . yes!, the creation of a state all-women's program. Any lawyer who gave that advice to the Commonwealth
In any event, "diversity in the form of single-sex, as well as coeducational, institutions of higher learning" is "available to women as well as to men" in Virginia. Ante, at 564. The concurrence is able to assert the contrary only by disregarding the four all-women's private colleges in Virginia (generously assisted by public funds) and the Commonwealth's longstanding policy of coordinating public with private educational offerings, see supra, at 579, 581-582, and n. 2, 583-584, and n. 3. According to the concurrence, the
2, Virginia's reason assistance to its four all-women's private colleges does not count is that "[t]he private women's colleges are treated by the State exactly as all other private schools are treated." Ante, at 564. But if Virginia cannot get credit for assisting women's education if it only treats women's private schools as it does all other private schools, then why should it get blame for assisting men's education if it only treats VMI as it does all other public schools? This is a great puzzlement.
As is frequently true, the Court's decision today will have consequences that extend far beyond the parties to the litigation. What I take to be the Court's unease with these consequences, and its resulting unwillingness to acknowledge them, cannot alter the reality.
Under the constitutional principles announced and applied today, single-sex public education is unconstitutional. By going through the motions of applying a balancing test—asking
The Supreme Court of the United States does not sit to announce "unique" dispositions. Its principal function is to establish precedent —that is, to set forth principles of law that every court in America must follow. As we said only this Term, we expect both ourselves and lower courts to adhere to the "rationale upon which the Court based the results of its earlier decisions." Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 66-67 (1996) (emphasis added). That is the principal reason we publish our opinions.
And the rationale of today's decision is sweeping: for sexbased classifications, a redefinition of intermediate scrutiny that makes it indistinguishable from strict scrutiny. See supra, at 571-574. Indeed, the Court indicates that if any program restricted to one sex is "uniqu[e]," it must be opened to members of the opposite sex "who have the will and capacity" to participate in it. Ante, at 542. I suggest that the single-sex program that will not be capable of being characterized as "unique" is not only unique but nonexistent.
In any event, regardless of whether the Court's rationale leaves some small amount of room for lawyers to argue, it ensures that single-sex public education is functionally dead.
This is especially regrettable because, as the District Court here determined, educational experts in recent years have increasingly come to "suppor[t] [the] view that substantial educational benefits flow from a single-gender environment, be it male or female, that cannot be replicated in a coeducational setting. " 766 F. Supp., at 1415 (emphasis added). "The evidence in th[is] case," for example, "is virtually uncontradicted" to that effect. Ibid. Until quite recently, some public officials have attempted to institute new single-sex programs, at least as experiments. In 1991, for example, the Detroit Board of Education announced a program to establish three boys-only schools for inner-city youth; it was met with a lawsuit, a preliminary injunction was swiftly entered by a District Court that purported to rely on Hogan, see Garrett v. Board of Ed. of School Dist. of Detroit, 775 F.Supp. 1004, 1006 (ED Mich. 1991), and the
There are few extant single-sex public educational programs. The potential of today's decision for widespread disruption of existing institutions lies in its application to private single-sex education. Government support is immensely important to private educational institutions. Mary Baldwin College—which designed and runs VWIL— notes that private institutions of higher education in the 1990-1991 school year derived approximately 19 percent of their budgets from federal, state, and local government funds, not including financial aid to students. See Brief for Mary Baldwin College as Amicus Curiae 22, n. 13 (citing U. S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, p. 38 and Note (1993)). Charitable status under the tax laws is also highly significant for private educational institutions, and it is certainly not beyond the Court that rendered today's decision to hold that a donation to a single-sex college should be deemed contrary to public policy and therefore not deductible if the college discriminates on the basis of sex. See Note, The Independent Sector and the Tax Laws: Defining Charity in an Ideal Democracy, 64 S. Cal. L. Rev. 461, 476 (1991). See also Bob Jones Univ. v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983).
The Court adverts to private single-sex education only briefly, and only to make the assertion (mentioned above) that "[w]e address specifically and only an educational opportunity recognized by the District Court and the Court of Appeals as `unique.' " Ante, at 534, n. 7. As I have already remarked, see supra, at 596, that assurance assures nothing, unless it is to be taken as a promise that in the future
The issue will be not whether government assistance turns private colleges into state actors, but whether the government itself would be violating the Constitution by providing state support to single-sex colleges. For example, in Norwood v. Harrison, 413 U.S. 455 (1973), we saw no room to distinguish between state operation of racially segregated schools and state support of privately run segregated schools. "Racial discrimination in state-operated schools is barred by the Constitution and `[i]t is also axiomatic that a state may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.' " Id., at 465 (quoting Lee v. Macon County Bd. of Ed., 267 F.Supp. 458, 475-476 (MD Ala. 1967)); see also Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 19 (1958) ("State support of segregated schools through any arrangement, management, funds, or property cannot be squared with the [Fourteenth] Amendment's command that no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"); Grove City College v. Bell, 465 U.S. 555, 565 (1984) (case arising under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and stating that "[t]he economic effect of direct and indirect assistance often is indistinguishable"). When the Government was pressed at oral argument concerning the implications of these cases for private single-sex education if government-provided single-sex education is unconstitutional,
The only hope for state-assisted single-sex private schools is that the Court will not apply in the future the principles of law it has applied today. That is a substantial hope, I am happy and ashamed to say. After all, did not the Court today abandon the principles of law it has applied in our earlier sex-classification cases? And does not the Court positively invite private colleges to rely upon our ad-hocery by assuring them this litigation is "unique"? I would not advise the foundation of any new single-sex college (especially an all-male one) with the expectation of being allowed to receive any government support; but it is too soon to abandon in despair those single-sex colleges already in existence. It will certainly be possible for this Court to write a future opinion that ignores the broad principles of law set forth today, and that characterizes as utterly dispositive the opinion's perceptions that VMI was a uniquely prestigious allmale institution, conceived in chauvinism, etc., etc. I will not join that opinion.
* * *
Justice Brandeis said it is "one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262, 311
In the course of this dissent, I have referred approvingly to the opinion of my former colleague, Justice Powell, in Mississippi Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718 (1982). Many of the points made in his dissent apply with equal force here—in particular, the criticism of judicial opinions that purport to be "narro[w]" but whose "logic" is "sweepin[g]." Id., at 745-746, n. 18. But there is one statement with which I cannot agree. Justice Powell observed that the Court's decision in Hogan, which struck down a single-sex program offered by the Mississippi University for Women, had thereby "[l]eft without honor . . . an element of diversity that has characterized much of American education and enriched much of American life." Id., at 735. Today's decision does not leave VMI without honor; no court opinion can do that.
In an odd sort of way, it is precisely VMI's attachment to such old-fashioned concepts as manly "honor" that has made it, and the system it represents, the target of those who today succeed in abolishing public single-sex education. The record contains a booklet that all first-year VMI students
"A Gentleman . . .
"Does not hail a lady from a club window.
"Does not display his wealth, money or possessions.
"A Gentleman can become what he wills to be. . . ."
I do not know whether the men of VMI lived by this code; perhaps not. But it is powerfully impressive that a public institution of higher education still in existence sought to have them do so. I do not think any of us, women included, will be better off for its destruction.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance in No. 94-1941 were filed for the State of South Carolina et al. by Charles Molony Condon, Attorney General, Treva Ashworth, Deputy Attorney General, Kenneth P. Woodington, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Reginald I. Lloyd, Assistant Attorney General, and M. Dawes Cooke, Jr.; and for Kenneth E. Clark et al. by James C. Roberts and George A. Somerville.
Briefs of amici curiae were filed in both cases for the State of Wyoming et al. by William U. Hill, Attorney General of Wyoming, Thomas W. Corbett, Jr., Attorney General of Pennsylvania, and Bradley B. Cavedo; for Bennett College et al. by Wendy S. White; for the Center for Military Readiness et al. by Mellissa Wells-Petry and Jordan W. Lorence; for the Employment Law Center et al. by Patricia A. Shiu and Judith Kurtz; for the Independent Women's Forum et al. by Anita K. Blair and C. Douglas Welty; for Mary Baldwin College by Craig T. Merritt and Richard K. Willard; for the South Carolina Institute of Leadership for Women by Julianne Farnsworth; for Wells College et al. by David M. Lascell; for Women's Schools Together, Inc., et al. by John C. Danforth and Thomas C. Walsh; and for Nancy Mellette by Valorie K. Vojdik, Henry Weisburg, Suzanne E. Coe, and Robert R. Black.
Briefs of amici curiae were filed in No. 94-1941 for the American Association of University Professors et al. by Joan E. Bertin and Ann H. Franke; and for Rhonda Cornum et al. by Allan L. Gropper.
Daniel F. Kolb, Herbert J. Hansell, Paul C. Saunders, Norman Redlich, Barbara R. Arnwine, Thomas J. Henderson, and Richard T. Seymour filed a brief for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law as amicus curiae in No. 94-2107.
"Were our State a pure democracy . . . there would yet be excluded from their deliberations . . . [w]omen, who, to prevent depravation of morals and ambiguity of issue, could not mix promiscuously in the public meetings of men." Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval (Sept. 5, 1816), in 10 Writings of Thomas Jefferson 45-46, n. 1 (P. Ford ed. 1899).
"The pluralistic argument for preserving all-male colleges is uncomfortably similar to the pluralistic argument for preserving all-white colleges . . . . The all-male college would be relatively easy to defend if it emerged from a world in which women were established as fully equal to men. But it does not. It is therefore likely to be a witting or unwitting device for preserving tacit assumptions of male superiority—assumptions for which women must eventually pay."
"Plato questioned whether women should be afforded equal opportunity to become guardians, those elite Rulers of Platonic society. Ironically, in that most undemocratic system of government, the Republic, women's native ability to serve as guardians was not seriously questioned. The concern was over the wrestling and exercise class in which all candidates for guardianship had to participate, for rigorous physical and mental training were prerequisites to attain the exalted status of guardian. And in accord with Greek custom, those exercise classes were conducted in the nude. Plato concluded that their virtue would clothe the women's nakedness and that Platonic society would not thereby be deprived of the talent of qualified citizens for reasons of mere gender."
For Plato's full text on the equality of women, see 2 The Dialogues of Plato 302-312 (B. Jowett transl., 4th ed. 1953). Virginia, not bound to ancient Greek custom in its "rigorous physical and mental training" programs, could more readily make the accommodations necessary to draw on "the talent of [all] qualified citizens." Cf. supra, at 550-551, n. 19.
"[I]t is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end of it. New claims will arise; women will demand a vote; lads from twelve to twenty-one will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level." Letter from John Adams to James Sullivan (May 26, 1776), in 9 Works of John Adams 378 (C. Adams ed. 1854).
In addition, as the parties stipulated in the District Court, the Commonwealth provides other financial support and assistance to private institutions—including single-sex colleges—through low-cost building loans, state-funded services contracts, and other programs. See, e. g., Va. Code Ann. §§ 23-30.39 to 23.30.58 (1993) (Educational Facilities Authority Act). The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, in a 1989 document not created for purposes of this litigation but introduced into evidence, has described these various programs as a "means by which the Commonwealth can provide funding to its independent institutions, thereby helping to maintain a diverse system of higher education." Budget Initiatives 10.