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Defunis v. Odegard
ISSUE: Whether or not the petition is moot and academic
FACTS: DeFunis was denied admission at the University of Washington Law School, a state-operated institution. He sued a state education official, Odegaard, as well as the law school admissions committee on the basis that it had violated the Equal Protection Clause because its policies and procedures had resulted in discrimination against him because of his race. He sought a mandatory injunction from the trial court that would compel Odegaard to grant him admission into the first-year law school class because his application had been unconstitutionally denied. He prevailed in the lower court and was admitted to the law school, pending Odegaard's appeal. The state Supreme Court eventually ruled that the law school admissions policy was constitutional.DeFunis received a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court, which stayed the judgment of the Washington Supreme Court until the U.S. Supreme Court had resolved the case. DeFunis was already in his third and final year of law school when the Court granted his petition.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Because petitioner will complete law school at the end of the term for which he has registered regardless of any decision, the case is moot. Mootness here does not depend upon a "voluntary cessation" of the school's admissions practices, but upon the simple fact that petitioner is in his final term, and the school's fixed policy to permit him to complete the term. The case presents no question that is "capable of repetition, yet evading review," since petitioner will never again have to go through the school's admissions process, and since it does not follow that the issue petitioner raises will in the future evade review merely because this case did not reach the Court until the eve of petitioner's graduation.
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