C-SPAN Radio continues its special series of five equal protection historic oral arguments this Saturday with a 1996 case on single sex education (male): “United States, petitioner v. the State of Virginia and the Virginia Military Institute, respondents.”
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is the oldest state-supported military college in the country and was Virginia's only exclusively male public undergraduate institution of higher learning. The United States brought suit against the state of Virginia and VMI, alleging that the school's male-only admissions policy was unconstitutional in that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. On appeal from a District Court ruling favoring VMI, the Fourth Circuit Court reversed, finding VMI's admissions policy to be unconstitutional.
In response, Virginia proposed to create the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership as a parallel program for women. On appeal from the District Court's affirmation of that plan, the Fourth Circuit ruled that despite the difference in prestige between the two schools, the two programs would offer "substantively comparable" educational benefits. The United States appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.