In 1990, the United States filed a suit against Virginia and the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) for enforcing an all-male admissions policy. The Supreme Court ruled that VMI's male-only admissions policy lacked an "exceedingly persuasive justification" for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
VMI had attempted to establish a comparable school for women, but in Justice Ginsburg’s words, it was “a pale shadow of VMI in terms of the range of curricular choices and faculty stature, funding, prestige, alumni support and influence.”
The ruling set a strong precedent for equal opportunity cases for women. In May 2021, VMI welcomed Cadet Casey Meredith as its first woman commander of the Corps of Cadets; the first in the school's 182 year history.
The exclusion of women from educational opportunities
is once again,
the decision to deny
rights or opportunities based on
our Nation denied
to women, simply because they are women,
equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and
contribute to society
“The question to be answered, I repeat, is whether the exclusion of women from VMI is 'substantially related to an important governmental objective...'”