United States v. Virginia

U.S. Case Law

Legal Definition of United States v. Virginia 

518 U.S. 515 (1996), held that denial of admission to a state-supported institution of higher education based on gender violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) was established as an all-male public institution in 1839 with a mission of producing “citizen soldiers” through special rigorous teaching methods. In 1990, after complaints from a female applicant, the United States brought suit alleging discrimination, and the Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed, finding VMI's single-sex policy discriminatory. In response, Virginia claimed that to admit women, VMI would have to so drastically modify its method as to destroy it, and proposed to open a parallel all-female institution with the same mission. The Supreme Court upheld the District Court's decision, finding that VMI had not shown that its all-male policy served an important government objective. It also found the state's proposed remedy lacking, concluding that the educational opportunities at the newly created women's institution would not be equal to that provided by the VMI, with its long-held reputation for being extraordinarily challenging.

Comments on United States v. Virginia

What made you want to look up United States v. Virginia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!