affirmative action

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affirmative action,

in the United States, programs to overcome the effects of past societal discrimination by allocating jobs and resources to members of specific groups, such as minorities and women. The policy was implemented by federal agencies enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and two executive orders, which provided that government contractors and educational institutions receiving federal funds develop such programs. The Equal Employment Opportunities Act (1972) set up a commission to enforce such plans.

The establishment of racial quotas in the name of affirmative action brought charges of so-called reverse discrimination in the late 1970s. Although the U.S. Supreme Court accepted such an argument in Regents of the University of California v. BakkeRegents of the University of California v. Bakke,
case decided in 1978 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court held in a closely divided decision that race could be one of the factors considered in choosing a diverse student body in university admissions decisions.
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 (1978), it let existing programs stand and approved the use of quotas in 1979 in a case involving voluntary affirmative-action programs in unions and private businesses. In the 1980s, the federal government's role in affirmative action was considerably diluted. In three cases in 1989, the Supreme Court undercut court-approved affirmative action plans by giving greater standing to claims of reverse discrimination, voiding the use of minority set-asides where past discrimination against minority contractors was unproven, and restricting the use of statistics to prove discrimination, since statistics did not prove intent.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 reaffirmed a federal government's commitment to affirmative action, but a 1995 Supreme Court decision placed limits on the use of race in awarding government contracts; the affected government programs were revamped in the late 1990s to encompass any person who was "socially disadvantaged." Since the mid-1990s, in a public backlash against perceived reverse discrimination, California and a number of other states have banned the use of race- and sex-based preferences in state and local programs and contracting, and public education. A 2003 Supreme Court decision concerning affirmative action in universities allowed educational institutions to consider race as a factor in admitting students as long as it was not used in a mechanical, formulaic manner. This requirement was tightened by the Court in 2013, which said that courts that approve of the consideration of race in university admissions must be sure that the diversity achieved could not have been accomplished using other means.

In Europe, the European Court of Justice has upheld (1997) the use in the public sector of affirmative-action programs for women, establishing a legal precedent for the nations of the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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.

affirmative action

see POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION.
References in periodicals archive ?
The court heard in earlier sentence hearings Positive Action was in liquidation, with one of the main creditors being the HSE.
Positive Action (2008) was chosen as the intervention because it was being piloted by the school district as a possible PK--12 Tier 1 character education program.
It is only in situations where two or more candidates have equal levels of skill, qualification and experience that the issue of positive action would come under consideration.
ViiV Healthcare said that it has committed USD850,000 this year to support Positive Action Community Grants in the US and USD500,000 over the next two years to support the Southern Initiative grantees.
NIDA Director Nora Volkow feels the study conducted on Positive Action "provides compelling evidence that intervening with young children is a promising approach to preventing drug use and other problem behaviors.
It surely doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that positive action means you ensure the playing field is completely level, so everyone has the chance of employment, training etc, whereas positive discrimination means some people lose out unfairly so that others can advance.
The Tackling Drugs Changing Lives Awards are open to all public and voluntary sector workers in the UK who have taken direct positive action to tackle drug issues in the local community.
Progress report of the randomized trial of Positive Action in Hawaii: End of third year of intervention.
AMAEs positive action for over-50s resources THE help being offered to older people in South Wales has been checked out by an Assembly Member.
With sound experienced-based advice, Julianna Slattery will help mothers to keep their faithfulness and focus on the modern challenges of motherhood, and offers practical, applicable tools for replacing guilt with positive action.
There is a lawsuit there, so there is just a different process," Hildebran said of the Boyd County case, adding, however, that positive action in other parts of Kentucky doesn't hurt.
It is time the Government got to grips with the situation and took some positive action to sort it out once and for all.

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