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Affirmative Action
in Politics

By PaulettePaulette 22 Pts
Do you think affirmative action policy should continue?
  1. Live Poll

    Do you think affirmative action policy should continue?

    14 votes
    1. yes
      21.43%
    2. no
      78.57%



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Arguments

  • No.

    Any formal mechanism that unfairly skews a process in favour of someone based on an arbitrary characteristic is discriminatory. Period. Affirmative action is discriminatory to anyone who does not qualify, and leads to tokenism rather than actual solutions to the discrimination.

    The counter-argument to this is that context dictates pre-existing unfairness for those with 'unfavourable' characteristics, necessitating a formal readjustment. Unfavourable not meaning objectively bad, but interpreted as disadvantaging someone.

    My problem is that affirmative action does not promote equality, as it does not control for the following (Italics underneath these points illustrating skin colour as an example):
    • There is no fair way to assess what is an unfavourable characteristic.
      How do we fairly assess which skin colours are disadvantaged? We can use incarceration statistics for black people, we can use cultural stigma for Asian/Middle Eastern people, we can use prevalent "white guilt" for white people. Here, it's completely values-based, and not to mention, differs across communities. A white person in a ghetto may experience more police brutality than a black person in a city. An Asian in a liberal city may experience less cultural stigma than a black person in a predominantly Asian neighbourhood.

    • How do we measure the level to which someone has an unfavourable characteristic?
      How do we assess if someone is black? Do they need to be a certain shade, or have measurable heritage from certain countries? Do we include "light skinned" people? Do we include latinos/tanned skin people as white? Some European people are similar colours to/darker than latinos (eg. Italians and Spanish), do we parse these out?

    • To what extent has it disadvantaged that individual in particular (ie. the jobseeker)?
      How do we tell if social stigma or racism has specifically disadvantaged that person? Affirmative action is not reflective of the black community for a light-skinned black person who grew up in an affluent neighbourhood and experienced nothing more than incidental discrimination (which everybody does, to some extent, based on any kind of characteristic- sexuality, attractiveness, gender, heck even their fashion).

    • What amount of skew is appropriate?
      At what point is it determined that their experience requires shoehorning someone equally deserving out of the position? In which cases do we simply allow for grades that might be lower than the next person, in which cases do we give them the job, no further questions asked?

    • What is the timeframe for which such policies should continue?
      What concrete, tangible milestones need to be reached for affirmative action to no longer be deemed necessary? Not something nebulous like "equality," "or human dignity," but literally, what goals? Is this measured in a % incarceration rate (which may ignore confounding factors such as socioeconomics), general public perception polls (which may not have real-world effects), self-reporting of the individual (might be exaggerated). Will goalposts be changed as certain groups attain more privilege?
    Since affirmative action does not account for the above, it is discriminatory to anyone who does not 'qualify' for it. It does not incorporate fair parameters. As such, a better policy would be to enhance the opportunities of everyone regardless of their characteristics at an institutional level (such as in education, networking, skill-building), rather than a quick-fix solution of skewing things based on surface-level characteristics at the immediate job/position level. This would ensure that appointments become more meritocratic, and avoid tokenistic representation.

    Before anyone jumps on me, I'm not denying that certain races/characteristics experience more across-the-board discrimination. I'm just saying that it's unworkable because discrimination is intersectional. Anyone, regardless of race, can be discriminated against on their sex, attractiveness, sexuality, intelligence, family background, fashion choices, political opinions, height, weight, etc. Blanket policies for blanket identities don't work - they are unfair to anyone who does not 'qualify.'
    Pauletteall4acttLukeQLD
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3295 Pts
    "Affirmative action" is a product of collectivist thinking that sees individuals not as forces in themselves, but merely as separate parts of a single group-collective. They cannot escape being part of that group-collective, they cannot denounce that group-collective - they are forever a slave to their condition.

    This is not a new idea. India has caste system stating that a person is born into a certain role in the society they can never escape. China and Europe used to have feudal system stating that the individual is born into a certain economical-political class, and they can only escape it through tremendous sacrifices. Muslim countries have a deeply entrenched belief that women are created to be companions for men and have no other role to play, and any deviation from that role is treated with extreme prejudice.
    What is new is that it is nowadays gaining traction in traditionally individualistic cultures born from the ideas of Enlightenment, that over time have grown sceptical of the idea that human mind alone defines what one is capable of in life and what they deserve to obtain in it, and have adopted (or, rather, re-appropriated) the old idea stating that the product of human mind is merely a function of bigger forces at play that are outside the individual control, and, thus, it is those forces that must be tamed and organised in a systematic manner, so as to let the human mind work in "fairer" conditions.

    What does it mean for someone to be, for example, "Indian"? By definition, it means nothing but the fact that the person has ancestry consisting of individuals living in India. This has absolutely no impact on the ability of the individual to compete with other individuals. An Indian and a Chinese are not different in anything relevant to their inherent ability to achieve success in life just by nature of being Indian and Chinese. Applying different standards to them when it comes to expectations of satisfactory performance is fallacious.
    Most people advocating for "affirmative action" realise it, but put forward another argument, one that, when not examined close enough, may appear to be reasonable and principally different from the argument stating that individuals belonging to different groups have inherently different mental abilities: that, you see, it is the injustices in the societal structure that unfairly disadvantage them, thus they are playing a game with a handicap, and some correction is required for that handicap.
    Upon closer examination, however, this is the same argument: it states that, by nature of belonging to a certain group, the individual is handicapped in life. It prescribes the individual certain properties they cannot escape; it imprisons them in lifelong unavoidable condition. Whether this condition is a result of biological forces, or social forces, it is still an immovable condition, and no effort on the part of the individual can make up for it.

    This, of course, is not true at all. There are countless examples of people triumphing over obstacles in their lives, sometimes seemingly impassable obstacles. What about the story of the German prisoner of war who escaped from a Soviet concentration camp, walked through the entire totalitarian country on foot for months, sneaked through the southern border and returned to Germany? There are millions such examples.
    Yet these examples are usually discounted by proponents of manual equalisation of group-collectives: they state that the success of some individuals does not disprove the general trend. It may be possible that the last US president was "Black", they will say, but that only illustrates the problem: he is the only "Black" president in the history of the US, and if the "Black population" was not handicapped, there would have been more "Black" presidents!
    This is, in essence, pure religion: they take a non-falsifiable position (no matter what counter-examples one can bring, they can keep saying that they do not disprove the general trend) and refuse to consider alternatives. Sometimes they even use statistics to emphasise their point, as if statistical patterns mean anything when applied to particular individuals.

    Another factor these people often acknowledge, but dismiss it as the "necessary evil", is that these policies actually disadvantage other groups. I have known an Asian researcher, an absolutely brilliant scholar; I consider myself highly intelligent, but conversing with her made me feel like a fool in comparison. She was supposed to be killing it on the job market, getting virtually any position she applied to. Yet the job offers were scarce. Most universities have quotas, explicit or implicit, putting unreasonably high standards on incoming Asian students (that is why Asian students, on average, are so superior in performance to all other students: it is not only because they are naturally somehow smarter, but it is also because only the most brilliant of them satisfy those inflated standards).
    Advocates for "affirmative action" have never managed to explain why it is okay to discriminate against one group in order to "equalise" outcomes of another. And they never can: the whole idea of discrimination against groups is something they, allegedly, fight against. Allegedly. This is not what it really is about though, is it?

    What it is about, as all other things in life, really, is the well-being of those advocating for these measures. A bureaucrat sitting at their office and designing group quotas, group standards, etc. wants to feel like they are making a difference in the world - and, of course, they want to come across as doing so, so they get a pat on the back and a raise at the end of the month. That is why they can so freely play with numbers, toying with human lives like plushies: these are not really human lives in their eyes, but abstract numbers, statistics, ideas. Getting the right numbers on the yearly report is what they are after. That those number do not reflect thousands lives their policies broke is not important, nor is it really obvious to them.

    I have come to believe over time that all authoritarian people fundamentally are psychopaths who see other humans as numbers. It was Stalin who said, "The death of one person is a tragedy. The death of a million is statistics". And he was right: nobody can comprehend what death of a million really means, nor does anybody want to try. When one person dies, there is a corpse, right there: you can look at it, touch it and realise that you just stared death in the eyes. When a million dies, there is a million corpses laying on the field, and individual corpses become meaningless in this pile. However, some people will still be able to feel empathy towards one-two corpses and, by extension, empathy towards the whole set of corpses. But some will see it as a number: a million. Not a million lives; just a million. Put it in their notebook, among other similar numbers, and move on. These are the authoritarians. These are the collectivists.

    You can understand, from this, that people pushing for "affirmative action" really are not driven by compassion; they do not have one when thinking about these policies. Now, a person negatively affected by their policies can come to their office and explain their situation to them: at such moments temporary clarity may come down to the authoritarian, a glimpse into the horror they have done. However, soon after this person leaves the office, they will be back to numbers in the notebook, and all of this will be just a terrible dream.

    Collectivists are the least compassionate people out there. People who see others not as individual humans, but as amorphic groups. They sometimes advocate for awful things like abolition of private means of production or even all property whatsoever, because they do not see the individual, they see the collective - and if the collective is the important unit, then what do the lives of the individual matter? What, you wanted to have your own business, hiring people you like and producing stuff you like? Hey, now, you are merely a member of the collective; know your place. You have production quotas to fulfil, so get to it, before we get to you.

    If you really think this through, you will understand that affirmative action, group quotas, socialist ideas, authoritarianism, psychopathy - all these things are closely connected to each other. People advocating for these are not just misguided well-meaning individuals; no, they are actually evil. The culture simply has grown accustomed to this evil over time, and the twisted moral code that religions and other horrible ideologies have been professing throughout centuries blinded people to its nature.

    Do not be deceived by one of those people's smile, by their activism, by the hugs they give the people they allegedly defend. It does not matter what is on the surface; what matters is what is inside, and if you look deep enough there, you will be horrified by what you see.
    MichaelElpers
  • PaulettePaulette 22 Pts
    • Affirmative action is a way to ensure that diversity is obtained and maintained in schools and in the workplace. In so doing it also helps create tolerant communities because it exposes people to a variety of cultures and ideas that are different from their own.
    •  It helps disadvantaged people who come from areas of the country where there are not very many opportunities be able to advance where they otherwise could not. In other words, it gives everyone an equal playing field.
    • Affirmative action is a way to help compensate for the fact that, due to many years of oppression, some races "started late in the race." Again, it helps level the playing field

    • Copied this from my government assignment: "Affirmative action is a way to ensure that diversity is obtained and maintained in schools and in the workplace." "Affirmative action is a way to help compensate for the fact that, due to many years of oppression, some races 'started late in the race'." These arguments are for Affirmative Action because they are discussing how through Affirmative Action, diversity is maintained in the workplace and they are trying to make amends for discrimination in the past that minorities have faced. "Simply having people of different races or ethnicities in the workplace/university does not necessarily mean diversity of opinion. People with the same skin color are not necessarily the same in opinion or even culture." "Affirmative action is reverse discrimination. The past discrimination against certain minority groups does not justify present discrimination against non-minorities. All people are equal under the laws of the United States of America and should be treated accordingly." These arguments are against Affirmative Action because they are discussing how Affirmative Action is "reverse discrimination" and that all U.S. citizens should be treated equally and that past discrimination towards minorities does not justify them being favored in decision making in the workplace. Yes, affirmative action advocates for equity of race, gender, sexual orientation and other groups that have been historically discriminated. I do think affirmative action should continue because it ensures diversity in the workplace, helping create a more tolerant community in our generation. Affirmative action is a way to help compensate for the decades of oppression minorities have faced. Many people may make the argument that affirmative action puts Asian-Americans at a disadvantage but, in reality, the policy benefits them.
    Asher34all4actt
  • PaulettePaulette 22 Pts
    @blacklights Affirmative action is a way to try to make amends for centuries of discrimination/racism that minorities face. Affirmative action helps Women, Black people, Asian people, Indian people, Native Americans, queer, ect. 
    PlaffelvohfenAlofRIall4acttLukeQLD
  • @Paulette. I really think you need to read what mayceasar wrote.

    Affirmative action doesnt even really work, it has shown to cause low graduation rates amongst those that receive it because they get placed in a college where they did nit necessarily academically qualify, and therefore fall beilhind other students.

    There is no such thing as reverse discrimination, if you are helping prop up one group you are inherently discriminating against another.

    Are you willing to give up your spot in college in the name of diversity, or perhaps your job? (People never are even though that is what you are doing to individuals) A diversity solely based on a collectivist ideal that all people of the same skin color are similar.

    "Many people may make the argument that affirmative action puts Asian-Americans at a disadvantage but, in reality, the
    policy benefits them. "
    Please tell me how. Also again your only identifying people by their race, rather than as an individual. This is a huge problem, and why discrimination will continue to exist.

    Asher34all4acttLukeQLD
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3295 Pts
    edited June 12

    Are you willing to give up your spot in college in the name of diversity, or perhaps your job? (People never are even though that is what you are doing to individuals) A diversity solely based on a collectivist ideal that all people of the same skin color are similar.
    This (in bold) is precisely the biggest problem with government-affiliated policies: those enacting them do not face their consequences, and the voter feedback is too weak to hold them accountable for their actions.

    Virtually every sweeping regulation, quota, restriction, etc. these people put on millions other people they would never impose on themselves voluntarily. Imagine, for example, a licensing requirement for advancing through political ranks: no politician would ever enact that in a democratic country. Yet politicians are all too happy to impose licensing requirements on people of thousands other professions.

    This is not something that flies in the private sector, where the person making these decisions decreases company profits if they negatively affect the customer base, normally either taking a direct hit on their income, or getting penalised by those they are subordinate to. But in the public sector this is not the case, and failed policies often, in fact, help the person justify request for more funding. And while it is true that a series of extremely unpopular decisions make cause the voter based to become hostile to the current iteration of the government and vote for replacing it, it is usually only at the top that this replacement happens, while most of the lower-ranked individuals keep their positions. Not to mention that the popular vote, against, is not significantly impacted by discriminated minority votes - for example, Asians comprise too small a fraction of the US population to be able to vote out the people (and those at universities and other places subsidised by them) implementing affirmative action policies that disproportionally harm them.
    That is the problem with democracy: it is, at the end of the day, the rule of the majority. If the majority is okay with enforced discrimination of the minority, then the minority has absolutely no tools to combat such discrimination with. The Constitution exists exactly to prevent tyranny of the majority over the minority, but the Constitution is respected less and less over time, completely dismissed every time an attribution to "public interest" is made.

    Just think about it: people implement policies regulating others' lives that they would never want to be imposed on themselves, but get away with it because no serious accountability mechanisms exist. This is a terrible state of affairs, yet this is how virtually all modern officials act.
    I have always though that there should be some kind of mechanism forcing every regulation on those who sponsor them. For example, if someone wants to implement quotas for H1B visas for Indian workers, they (regardless of whether they are Indian or not) should be subjected to the same quotas. Let them be put in a 10 year long line of people expecting US work permit. In this period they, of course, are not allowed to work in the US.
    If the government functioned this way, I can guarantee that 99.999% of the modern regulations would not exist; they would not even cross people's minds. It is only that people get to control other lives with no repercussions that we have all these countless laws and regulations in which countless very talented people aspiring to do great things have their dreams crushed, because some official a while ago decided that they are too advantaged in this society, and must have some artificial disadvantage imposed on them in order to compensate for this unfairness.
    Asher34all4acttLukeQLD
  • @Paulette

    No it's not. It takes resources away from people who were probably never complicit in things like slavery or racism, and redirects it to people who probably haven't even been affected by things such as slavery or discrimination. 

    For example. I often hear this argument used in the context of black reparations. Let's not forget that at the height of slavery, less than 10% of people were ever slave owners. So it's very unlikely that any white person you meet today is the descendant of a slave owner, no less partook in it. Also, black slave owners in Africa sold slaves to American colonists. So do we track those people down and make them pay reparations to their own race?

    My entire point is that blanket statements based on "everyone with x-coloured skin gets this reward because they have suffered this other thing" do not work. Not all people with the same skin colour have the same circumstances and struggles. Not all black people suffer discrimination. Not all white people are racist. Make it make sense. At the end of the day it's targeting people for characteristics that they have no control over, and based on an understanding of "racism" that they themselves probably never even contributed to.
  • @Paulette No. It ensures that minorities get accepted into schools and jobs, not because of the merit of their actions but because of their race. Remember when Martin Luther King said "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character"? Well, accepting people into workplaces and schools because of their race isn't judging them because of the content of their character. It's seeing as their race but people think it's okay because they aren't doing it in a negative way because it helps them. But they aren't right in doing that because it groups minorities together and sees them as a group instead of individual people. The best thing to do is to judge people based on their achievements and qualifications. It also doesn't help white people as they are at a disadvantage if they have to give up a good job or school position because of a possibly unqualified person who got accepted solely because of their race.
  • all4acttall4actt 133 Pts
    The biggest problem I have heard accompliced people of color complain about is that affirmative actions makes some people wonder or worse assume that they are only in the position they are in because of their race and not because they spent their lives working their butt's off or are actually intelligent.  

    Once I was in a goverment office waiting to talk to someone and while waiting I noticed some job postings.  Simply out of a little bit of boredom and a litle oit of curiosity of what the requirements they would list to become a fireman.  The list seemed a little long but it was very explicit as to what the job requirements were.  The as I got to toward the end of the list it said something to the affect of 'If this job is for you than fill out an application where you then be required to take a test.'  It went on to explain that it would start with the top scorers and work it's way down. Now this would have all been well and good if it had ended there but it did not.  The posting ended with "if you are a white, hetrisexual male it will not matter how high your score is you will automatically be put at the bottom of the list."  Now try to tell me that that is not discrimnatory.   If that were said about any other classification of person it would be illegal but because it was stated about white, hetrosexual males it is not.   In 1977 The Supreme Court wrote the nvidious Discrmination Act.  Due to the fact that they are litterally the only classification of people who are not protected under this act.  How is that fair or relevent to a society that claim they want to get rid discrimination and want everyone treated as equals.

    Besides it being discriminatory, I don'know about you but I don't care what race, gender, gender prefference, or who you choose to share your bed with, when I have am emergency happenimg I want the best qualified person coming to my rescue.  Not some affirmative action picks and not one who was given an easier physical exam because of their sex, size or disability.
  • Affirmative action originally refers to a set of policies and practices preventing discrimination based on race, creed, color and national origins, now often refers policies positively supporting members of disadvantaged or underrepresented groups that have previously suffered discrimination in areas such as education, employment and housing. Historically and internationally, support for affirmative action has sought to achieve goals such as bridging inequalities in employment and pay, increasing access to education, promoting diversity, and redressing apparent past wrongs, harms, or hindrances.

    The nature of affirmative action policies varies from region to region and exists on a spectrum from a hard quota to merely targeting encouragement for increased participation. Some countries use a quota system, whereby a certain percentage of government jobs, political positions, and school vacancies must be reserved for members of a certain group; an example of this is the reservation system in India.

    In some other regions where quotas are not used, minority group members are given preference or special consideration in selection processes. In the United States, affirmative action in employment and education has been the subject of legal and political controversy. In 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Grutter v. Bollinger, held that the University of Michigan Law School could consider race as a plus-factor when evaluating applicants holistically and maintained the prohibition on the use of quotas.

    In the United Kingdom, hiring someone simply because of their protected group status, without regard to their performance, is illegal. However, the law in the United Kingdom does allow for membership in a protected and disadvantaged group to be considered in hiring and promotion when the group is under-represented in a given area and if the candidates are of equal merit. The controlling logic is that the person must not be chosen simply because of their group membership, but rather that the relevant authorities are allowed to use disadvantaged group status as a "tie-breaker" between two candidates of otherwise equal merit. This is functionally the same as the practice known as "affirmative action" in the United States.

    An alternative approach common in the United Kingdom is described as "positive action", however. Under this approach, the focus tends to be on ensuring equal opportunity and, for example, targeted advertising campaigns to encourage ethnic minority candidates to join the police force. This is often described as being "color blind", although the social viability of that concept is heavily contested in the United States.

  • Affirmative action in the United States is a set of laws, policies, guidelines, and administrative practices "intended to end and correct the effects of a specific form of discrimination"that include government-mandated, government-approved and voluntary private programs. The programs tend to focus on access to education and employment, granting special consideration to historically excluded groups, specifically racial minorities or women. The impetus toward affirmative action is redressing the disadvantages associated with past and present discrimination.Further impetus is a desire to ensure public institutions, such as universities, hospitals, and police forces, are more representative of the populations they serve.

    In the United States, affirmative action included the use of racial quotas until the Supreme Court questioned their constitutionality and mandated more indirect use of race.Affirmative action currently tends to emphasize not specific quotas but rather "targeted goals" to address past discrimination in a particular institution or in broader society through "good-faith efforts ... to identify, select, and train potentially qualified minorities and women."For example, many higher education institutions have voluntarily adopted policies which seek to increase recruitment of racial minorities.[12]Outreach campaigns, targeted recruitment, employee and management development, and employee support programs are examples of affirmative action in employment.Nine states in the US have ever banned the affirmative action: California (1996), Texas (1996), Washington (1998), Florida (1999), Michigan (2006), Nebraska (2008), Arizona (2010), New Hampshire (2012), Oklahoma (2012), and Idaho (2020). However, Texas's ban with Hopwood v. Texas was reversed in 2003 by Grutter v. Bollinger, leaving eight states that currently ban the policy.

    Affirmative action policies were developed to address long histories of discrimination faced by minorities and women, which reports suggest produced corresponding unfair advantages for whites and males.hey first emerged from debates over non-discrimination policies in the 1940s and during the civil rights movement. These debates led to federal executive orders requiring non-discrimination in the employment policies of some government agencies and contractors in the 1940s and onward, and to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibited racial discrimination in firms with over 25 employees. The first federal policy of race-conscious affirmative action was the Revised Philadelphia Plan, implemented in 1969, which required certain government contractors to set "goals and timetables" for integrating and diversifying their workforce. Similar policies emerged through a mix of voluntary practices and federal and state policies in employment and education. Affirmative action as a practice was partially upheld by the Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), while the use of racial quotas for college admissions was concurrently ruled unconstitutional by the Court in Gratz v. Bollinger (2003).

    Affirmative action is likely to give rise to controversy in American politics. Supporters argue that affirmative action is still needed to counteract continuing bias and prejudice against women and minorities. Opponents argue that these policies amount to discrimination against other minorities, such as Asian Americans, which entails favoring one group over another based upon racial preference rather than achievement, and many believe that the diversity of current American society suggests that affirmative action policies succeeded and are no longer required.Supporters point to contemporary examples of conscious and unconscious biases, such as the finding that job-seekers with black-sounding names may be less likely to get a callback than those with white-sounding names, as proof that affirmative action is not obsolete.

  • Legal Origins

    While the concept of affirmative action has existed in America since the 19th century, it first appeared in its current form in President Kennedy's Executive Order 10925 (1961): "The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin."

    Employment

    Government Contractors

    In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order mandating government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." ( Executive Order 10925) Since 1965, government contractors have been required to document their affirmative action programs through compliance reports, to contain "such information as to the practices, policies, programs, and employment policies, programs, and employment statistics of the contractor and each subcontractor . . . " (Executive Order 11246). Enforcement is conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

    In Richmond v. Croson, 488 U.S. 469 (1989), the Supreme Court held that strict scrutinyapplies to state statutes which set standards for affirmative action.

    General

    Employers who contract with the government or who otherwise receive federal funds are required to document their affirmative action practices and metrics. Affirmative action is also a remedy, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, where a court finds that an employer has intentionally engaged in discriminatory practices.

    The Equal Employment Opportunity commission, created by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enforces the following employment anti-discrimination laws: (source: EEOC).

    Education

    Recipients of federal funds are required to document their affirmative action practices and metrics. Educational institutions which have acted discriminatorily in the past must take affirmative action as a remedy. (34 CFR § 100.3(6)(ii)).

    The Office of Civil Rights enforces the following education anti-discrimination laws: (source:OCR)

    Supreme Court Decisions Related to Education

    In chronological order, here is a non-exhaustive list of Supreme Court decisions related to affirmative action.

    Brown v Board

    In Brown v. Board of Education, 374 U.S. 483 (1954), the Supreme Court held that public schools may not exclude minority students from white schools by sending the minority students to a school that separately services minority students. This decision acted as a precursor to many of the education-based affirmative action cases in the Supreme Court which followed in later years.

    Regents v. Bakke

    In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978), the University of California's Medical School at Davis reserved 16 spots in each entering class of 100 students for minority students. The Court did not hold a majority opinion, but the main legal takeaway from Bakke is that the Constitution prohibits a school from having racial quotas.

    ​Gratz v. Bollinger

    In Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003), the University of Michigan's Undergraduate Admissions Office used a points-based system in its admission process. The office added points for an applicant who was an underrepresented minority. The Supreme Court held that the race-based methods must use strict scrutiny. The Court held that the generalization of "underrepresented minorities" failed the narrow tailoring requirement that strict scrutiny imposes.

    Grutter v. Bollinger

    In Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), the University of Michigan Law School Admissions Office used race in its admissions process. However, the school did not assign points based on race. Instead, the school used race as one of a number of factors; race could not automatically result in an acceptance or a rejection (which contrasts with Gratz, in which those 20 points used n Gratz could have resulted in admission or rejection).The Court held that this plan is narrowly tailored enough to satisfy strict scrutiny because the "program is flexible enough to ensure that each applicant is evaluated as an individual and not in a way that makes race or ethnicity the defining feature of the application . . . The Law School engages in a highly individualized, holistic review of each applicant's file, giving serious consideration to all the ways an applicant might contribute to a diverse educational environment." In dicta contained in the majority opinion, Justice O'Connor wrote, "The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today."

    Fisher v. Texas

    In Fisher v. University of Texas, 579 U.S. __ (2016), the University of Texas at Austin used a Top Ten Percent Law, in which any student who graduated in the top 10% of his or her high school class would be granted admission to the University. If an applicant was not in the top 10% of his or her high school class, the University would create an Academic Index (AI) and a Personal Achievement Index (PAI)for each student.

    The AI calculated SAT scores and high school academic performance, the PAI considered applicant’s essays, as well as a
    full-file review" which included leadership and work experience, extracurricular activities, community service, and other “special characteristics” that might give the admissions committee insight into a student’s background; race was included as one of these special characteristics.

    The Court found that the University's use of race constitutes a "factor of a factor of a factor," which, as one factor in the University's holistic review process, is narrow enough to meet strict scrutiny. The Court also held that there is a compelling interest in "obtaining the educational benefits that flow from student body diversity." As such, strict scrutiny is satisfied, and the Court held that the use of race in the University's admissions efforts was constitutional.

    Further Reading

    For more on affirmative action, see this New York University Law Review article, this Harvard Law Review article, and this Michigan Law Review article.

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  • Here is some background information about affirmative action as well as a few notable court cases.

    Affirmative action policies focus on improving opportunities for groups of people, like women and minorities, who have been historically excluded in United States' society. The initial emphasis was on education and employment. President John F. Kennedy was the first president to use the term in an Executive Order.

    Facts

      Supporters argue that affirmative action is necessary to ensure racial and gender diversity in education and employment. Critics state that it is unfair and causes reverse discrimination.
      Racial quotas are considered unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.Timeline (selected cases)
      1954 - The US Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, rules that the "separate but equal" doctrine violates the Constitution.
      1961 - President Kennedy creates the Council on Equal Opportunity in an Executive Order. This ensures that federal contractors hire people regardless of race, creed, color or national origin.
      1964 - The Civil Rights Act renders discrimination illegal in the workplace.
      1978 - In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, a notable reverse discrimination case, the Supreme Court rules that colleges cannot use racial quotas because it violates the Equal Protection Clause. As one factor for admission, however, race can be used.
      1995 - The University of Michigan rejects the college application of Jennifer Gratz, a top high school student in suburban Detroit who is white.
      October 14, 1997 - Gratz v. Bollinger, et al., is filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan. The University of Michigan is sued by white students, including Gratz and Patrick Hamacher, who claim the undergraduate and law school affirmative action policies using race and/or gender as a factor in admissions is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
      December 3, 1997 - A similar case, Grutter v. Bollinger, is filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan. Barbara Grutter, denied admission to the University of Michigan Law School, claims that other applicants, with lower test scores and grades, were given an unfair advantage due to race.
      December 2000 - The judge in the Gratz v. Bollinger case rules that the University of Michigan's undergraduate admissions policy does not violate the standards set by the Supreme Court.
      March 2001 - The judge in the Grutter v. Bollinger case rules the University of Michigan Law School's admissions policy is unconstitutional.
      December 2001 - The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals hears appeals in both University of Michigan cases.
      May 14, 2002 - The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the district court's decision in Grutter v. Bollinger.
      January 17, 2003 - The administration of President George W. Bush files a friend-of-the-courtbrief with the Supreme Court, opposing the University of Michigan's affirmative action program.
      April 1, 2003 - The US Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the two cases. US Solicitor General Theodore Olson offers arguments in support of the plaintiffs.
      June 23, 2003 - The Supreme Court rules on Grutter v. Bollinger that the University of Michigan Law School may give preferential treatment to minorities during the admissions process. The Court upholds the law school policy by a vote of five to four.
      June 23, 2003 - In Gratz v. Bollinger, the undergraduate policy in which a point system gave specific "weight" to minority applicants is overturned six to three.
      December 22, 2003 - The Supreme Court rules that race can be a factor in universities' admission programs but it cannot be an overriding factor. This decision affects the Grutter and Gratz cases.
      November 7, 2006 - The Michigan electorate strikes down affirmative action by approving a proposition barring affirmative action in public education, employment, or contracting.
      January 31, 2007 - After the Supreme Court sends the case back to district court; the case is dismissed. Gratz and Hamacher settle for $10,000 in administrative costs, but do not receive damages.
      2008 - Abigail Noel Fisher, a white woman, sues the University of Texas. She argues that the university should not use race as a factor in admission policies that favor African-American and Hispanic applicants over whites and Asian-Americans.
      July 1, 2011 - An appeals court overturns Michigan's 2006 ban on the use of race and/or gender as a factor in admissions or hiring practices.
      November 15, 2012 - The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals throws out Michigan's 2006 ban on affirmative action in college admissions and public hiring, declaring it unconstitutional.
      June 24, 2013 - The Supreme Court sends the University of Texas case back to the lower court for further review without ruling.
      October 15, 2013 - The US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case concerning Michigan's 2006 law on affirmative action.
      April 22, 2014 - In a six to two ruling, the Supreme Court upholds Michigan's ban of using racial criteria in college admissions.
      July 15, 2014 - The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholds the use of race by the University of Texas as a factor in undergraduate admissions to promote diversity on campus.The vote is two to one.
      November 17, 2014 - Students for Fair Admissions sues Harvard University, alleging Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans. Students for Fair Admissions is run by Edward Blum, a conservative advocate, who sought Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard.
      December 9, 2015 - The US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the University of Texas case regarding race as a factor in admissions policies.
      June 23, 2016 - The US Supreme Court upholds the Affirmative Action program by a vote of four to three with Justice Elena Kagan taking no part in the consideration. The ruling allows the limited use of affirmative action policies by schools.
      October 15, 2018 - The lawsuit against Harvard filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions goes to trial.
        February 2019 - Texas Tech University enters an agreement with the Department of Educationto stop considering race and/or national origin as a factor in its admissions process, concluding a 14-year-long investigation into the school's use of affirmative action.
        October 1, 2019 - US District Court Judge Allison Burroughs upholds Harvard's admissions process in the Students for Fair Admissions case, ruling that while Harvard's admissions process is "not perfect," she would not "dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster, solely because it could do better." An appeal is filed October 11, 2019, and an the United States files a brief supporting the appeal February 25, 2020.
      • WinstonCWinstonC 177 Pts
        Of course we should have affirmative action. By discriminating against people based on their race, we can ensure that no-one is discriminated against based on their race!

        Also, minorities in positions of power will be taken more seriously if they are given positions based on their race, because nobody will think that they only got the position because of their skin color.
      • LukeQLDLukeQLD 14 Pts
        Opportunity should be based on merit, not group characteristic. If a group is disadvantaged, the solution comes from knowing the causes and developing a solution which specifically addresses those causes. 

        Affirmative action creates an artificial contrived increase of opportunity to disadvantage groups, but does not identify or address the cause for those opportunities failing to exist organically. Therefore it is not equality of opportunity it is equality of outcome. It is an illusion of equality, and in failing to address the actual cause, those causes still exist but become less visible.


      • ld_xx2ld_xx2 2 Pts
        yes... it is making up for what black people went through in the past 
      • @Paulette
        I actually agree AA should be gone. It's really a band aid on a bullet wound used by democrats to appeal to their voter base
        The reason why Asian Americans do better educational is because due to the immigration act of 65 allowing only educated asian immigrations, their parents and grandparents already had a college education and as a result had good careers and made good money that they could use to ensure that their children had the resources to succeed. Black kids on the other hand are ancestors of sharecroppers who moved to the inner city in search of work but then fell to unemployment due to factory outsourcing and consequentially lived in poverty crime ridden neighborhoods. The war on drugs which lead to single motherhood and birth of black on black crime and gang violence didn't help. I think the real solution is ending the private prison industry which pays of the 2 parties to continue the drug war which gives drug offenders long sentences where they join gangs inside for protection and leave the prison fully fledge criminals and gang members. If we end the drug war, private prison industry, and stop outsourcing then minority neighborhoods would have more resources to better educate the residents ending the need for AA. Half of black and Latino stem students drop out, and this is due to their economic and educational opportunities not being on par with their counterparts. We just can't lower the requirements because that would still set them up for failure. Ex gov Jesse Ventura, eased drug sentencing and began introducing univeristy prep private schools to low income areas and those areas saw a decrease in crime and increase in graduation. Introducing private schools to these areas not only gives parents a choice and not forcing them to send children to shitty public schools but also forces public schools to step their game up because the more students they lose, the less funding they get. In addition ending the drug war ensures that single parenthood decreases which means schools get more pta.
      • @Paulette
        I actually agree AA should be gone. It's really a band aid on a bullet wound used by democrats to appeal to their voter base
        The reason why Asian Americans do better educational is because due to the immigration act of 65 allowing only educated asian immigrations, their parents and grandparents already had a college education and as a result had good careers and made good money that they could use to ensure that their children had the resources to succeed. Black kids on the other hand are ancestors of sharecroppers who moved to the inner city in search of work but then fell to unemployment due to factory outsourcing and consequentially lived in poverty crime ridden neighborhoods. The war on drugs which lead to single motherhood and birth of black on black crime and gang violence didn't help. I think the real solution is ending the private prison industry which pays of the 2 parties to continue the drug war which gives drug offenders long sentences where they join gangs inside for protection and leave the prison fully fledge criminals and gang members. If we end the drug war, private prison industry, and stop outsourcing then minority neighborhoods would have more resources to better educate the residents ending the need for AA. Half of black and Latino stem students drop out, and this is due to their economic and educational opportunities not being on par with their counterparts. We just can't lower the requirements because that would still set them up for failure. Ex gov Jesse Ventura, eased drug sentencing and began introducing univeristy prep private schools to low income areas and those areas saw a decrease in crime and increase in graduation. Introducing private schools to these areas not only gives parents a choice and not forcing them to send children to shitty public schools but also forces public schools to step their game up because the more students they lose, the less funding they get. In addition ending the drug war ensures that single parenthood decreases which means schools get more pta.
        Yes I agree with you. Immigration of Asians who are well educated is the reason behind Asian Americans' educational success. Yes and I think what you said about drugs are also true though I don't stay in the US and hence can't say for sure. 
        Lover, hunter, friend and enemy
        You will always be every one of these
        Nothing's fair in love and war.
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