Affirmative Action

Affirmative action programs originated during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. What began as a drive to ensure that minorities were not discriminated against in the hiring process quickly took on a more active nature. In an effort to make up for disparate numbers of minorities in employment and college admissions, many places now give an edge to minorities with the expressed purpose of ensuring diversity.

The first major Supreme Court case to address this was University of California Regents v. Bakke, in which Justice Powell established "strict scrutiny" as the appropriate level of review for any case that involves affirmative action programs. Additionally, Justice Powell established "achieving diversity" as an acceptable justification for employing affirmative action programs, so long as the means to achieving it are sufficiently narrowly tailored to avoid violations to the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Though many studies were performed after Bakke was decided, the issue came to a head again in 2003 when the Supreme Court looked at the admissions policies of the University of Michigan in two concurrent cases, Gratz and Grutter. In these cases, the Supreme Court once again upheld the use of race as a determining factor in admissions, so long as it wasn't too formulaic and it was a narrowly tailored policy.

Many scholars have argued, before the University of Michigan cases and after, that affirmative action programs do more harm than good. They argue that lowering standards hurts everyone, masks greater problems, and is unfair and illegal. Others argue that affirmative action has done much to bring the proportions of minorities in academia and the workforce closer to ttrue population proportions.

To deal with this dilemma, some states have chosen to ban affirmative action programs in state-funded institution. Citizens of Michigan and California, for example, have voted on and approved state constitutional amendments banning affirmative action in state agencies and state-funded universities.

Going forward, there does seem to be consensus that affirmative action programs are running their course. Many people believe that affirmative action programs are no longer needed on a racial basis, but more on a class and income-level basis. Either way, affirmative action programs will likely remain divisive.

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Quotes on affirmative action from leading politicians, economists, and racial advocates.

Commentary or Blog Post

Bunzel believes a more useful way to think about affirmative action is in terms of a "social contribution theory of universities."

Unfortunately, this preoccupation with preferences may be a fool's errand. The obsession with affirmative action may only help us avoid the more troubling reality: the ongoing underdevelopment that keeps so many blacks non-competitive.

For better and for worse, American culture remains highly individualistic in its values and premises, even at some sacrifice (where sacrifice is necessary) to its goal of substantive equality.

And thinking about phasing it into a class-based entitlement program may at long last bring Americans around to a consideration of the growing inequality that threatens the harmony of our democracy far more than the alarmist cry of 'racial division."

Affirmative action is dead, then. Every credible index points to that conclusion. Affirmative action died because affirmative action failed.

The system makes no sense, yet it survives. And in the name of racial and ethnic equality, it is passionately defended.

But perhaps such claims will find increasingly less receptive audiences in an age when the daughter of a white factory worker seeking admission to a top college may find herself competing against the daughter of a black President of the United States.

Connerly argues that "equal treatment before the law" ought to be the aim of any civil rights policy, and in describing that message, touches on some of the advancements and challenges the Civil Rights Movement will have if it continues on its path of only being about "people of color."

The Paycheck Fairness bill would require the government to collect information on workers' pay, by race and sex, with the goal of equalizing wages of men and women, by raising women's wages.

As a whole, the American public is quite divided about affirmative action programs designed to help racial minorities gain admission to colleges and to secure jobs. As one might expect, whites' and blacks' views on the policy differ.

In a new statistical analysis, two former Ivy League presidents argue that racial preferences in college admissions are good for both minorities and society at large.

What did I find but Section 342, which declares that race and gender employment ratios, if not quotas, must be observed by private financial institutions that do business with the government. In a major power grab, the new law inserts race and gender quotas into America's financial industry.

No issue has been more saturated with dishonesty than the issue of racial quotas and preferences, which is now being examined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Much has been said and written about the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by the voters of that state this past November. But there are ten major points in need of emphasis.

Some black students, who were admitted to the academy meritoriously on the same basis as white students, resent the idea of being seen as having the same academic qualities as blacks who were given preferential treatment, in other words being dumb.

It is time for liberal black leaders to stop hiding behind racism and admit that our priorities as a community have become our greatest hurdle to achieving long-term success.

Chart or Graph

However, while most blacks see anti-black discrimination as widespread, fewer believe it is the main reason that many blacks cannot get ahead.

Relatively few people ­ white or black ­ report having real life experiences with affirmative action: only 16% overall have been helped or hurt.

An analysis of the Minority Rights and Relations poll data shows that blacks' support for affirmative action is consistent even for those whose political belief systems differ.

Analysis Report White Paper

My goal in this Article is to be systemic—that is, to analyze legal education as a complete, interlocking system.

This is the transcript of a forum held by the Urban Institute in conjunction with the Georgetown Public Policy Institute where prominent figures debate whether or not affirmative action programs are still necessary.

In this paper we review the research evidence on the effects of Affirmative Action in employment, university admissions and government procurement. We consider effects on both equity (or distribution) as well as efficiency.

In the Manual, we've tried to provide information that will help you understand what affirmative is, why we have it, and why we still need it. At the same time, we've tried to offer generous descriptions of the objections to and reservations about affirmative action.

This report presents, first, an integrative summary of pertinent economic research that has investigated possible sources of the observed difference between the earnings of women and men.

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares for what could be a landmark ruling on the issue of racial preferences in college admissions, a new Pew Research Center nationwide survey finds a growing majority of the public supporting the general idea of affirmative action.

A common feature of the studies in this volume is a concern that an incorrect assessment of the factors producing inequality will lead to heavy-handed, though ineffective, government actions.

Sooner or later, affirmative action will die a natural death. Its achievements have been stupendous, but if we look at the premises that underlie it, we find assumptions and priorities that look increasingly shopworn.

African Americans see a widening gulf between the values of middle class and poor blacks, and nearly four-in-ten say that because of the diversity within their community, blacks can no longer be thought of as a single race.

Most folks today, with unintended irony, mean by 'affirmative action' that very preference by skin color that affirmative action was devised to eradicate.

However, supporters and opponents instead may have different types of policies in mind when thinking about affirmative action and may actually agree on specific manifestations of affirmative action policies more than is commonly believed.

Policymakers should end the harmful practice of racial preferences in college admissions.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF), ... we develop models that test claims about the effects of affirmative action—namely mismatch hypothesis and stereotype threat—on college performance in three groups: minorities, athletes, and legacies.

An important but unanswered question has to do with the opportunity cost of these admission preferences. Who are the beneficiaries and, by extension, who loses a seat at academically selective universities because some students are favored over others in the admission process?

American voters say 55 - 36 percent that affirmative action should be abolished, and disagree 71 - 19 percent with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's ruling in the New Haven firefighters' case, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.


In his new book, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, distinguished race-relations scholar Shelby Steele argues that the age of white supremacy has given way to an age of white guilt—and neither has been good for African Americans.

As racism recedes as a serious obstacle to black advancement, many black Americans have been misled into a self-destructive ideological detour.

In the United States, affirmative action policies, first implemented to address the historical grievances of black Americans, have long been controversial. But the debate over affirmative action has generally ignored such action as practiced by other countries around the world.

A look at some state ballot measures that would eliminate race or gender considerations in public hiring, contracting and education programs.

Over the past several years, race-based opportunity policies have been on the defensive.

The panelists discussed the current status of race relations in America and argued that governmental intervention in the interest of ensuring better racial harmony among individuals is too intrusive. Their arguments forwarded the Libertarian ideology of individual rights over collective rights.

In 1995 Connerly campaigned for Proposition 209, which would make it illegal for the state of California to discriminate on the basis of race, intending to end the state’s affirmative action programs. The proposition passed.

They examined women's social and economic progress over the past 25 years since affirmative action program were initiated and whether women still need such programs.

Primary Document

Washington delivered the following speech ­sometimes called the Atlanta Compromise ­before a white audience at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895.

The text of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This bill was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his "Great Society" legislative program. This law outlawed occupational discrimination and public segregation on the basis of race.

"This case requires us to decide whether the use of race as a factor in student admissions by the University of Michigan Law School (Law School) is unlawful."

A proposal to amend the constitution to prohibit the University of Michigan and other state universities, the state, and all other state entities from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

Prohibits the state, local governments, districts, public universities, colleges, and schools, and other government instrumentalities from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to any individual or group.

When the results of such an exam to fill vacant lieutenant and captain positions showed that white candidates had outperformed minority candidates, a rancorous public debate ensued.

"In less than 3 weeks we'll be celebrating the greatest blow ever struck for the cause of freedom—the Declaration of Independence. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident,' our Founding Fathers proclaimed, 'that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Unalienable Rights.'

That declaration inspired our nation to reach new heights of human freedom,...

This landmark decision set up the appropriate level of review for race-based affirmative action programs and set up "diversity in the classroom" as an appropriate ends to justify affirmative action in admissions.

AN ACT Relating to prohibiting government entities from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin; and adding new sections to chapter 49.60 RCW.

Douglass delivered the following speech on the subject: The Equality of all men before the law; Note that this was given within days of the close of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln.




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