affirmative action

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Related to affirmative action: Affirmative Action Plan

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

References in periodicals archive ?
Overall, Yuill is quite effective in tracking some of the changes in affirmative action through the Nixon presidency.
The economist Thomas Sowell's name appears in Anderson's book only twice, and in each case the reference is a fleeting one containing nary a word about Sowell's prodigious studies of the real consequences of affirmative action policies in the U.
Wise covers some of the same territory, and also deals forcefully with the issue of affirmative action for whites in his book Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge, January 2005).
Finally, even though the affirmative action program was not limited in duration, Justice O'Connor implied a 25 year termination point, noting it was unlikely the program would be needed in the distant future.
The higher participants scored on white-group identity measures, the less supportive they were of the affirmative action policy when they were told the policy reduced the percentage of white employees.
What this discussion does is clarify the difference between affirmative action and antidiscrimination.
This anecdote underscores a problem that permeates American society and has consequences for many public debates - ranging from affirmative action to capital punishment to welfare: the same or comparable actions are judged differently, depending on the racial identities of the actors.
Opponents of affirmative action will try to use the fear of future lawsuits to intimidate college administrators into backlog off from admissions programs that increase diversity," says Spencer Overton, a professor at George Washington University Law School who teaches civil rights legislation.
President Kennedy first mentioned affirmative action as a component of the work of the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, but the concept didn't crystallize into a fleshed-out federal policy until President Johnson launched his Great Society initiatives.
Black, Hispanic, and Native American enrollment declined at the two premier UC campuses, after the state banned affirmative action.
These assertions are of course nowhere near as obvious as Wilson would like a reader to believe, but the most notable aspect of Wilson's advocacy of affirmative action is how much his tone and emphasis, if not his underlying substantive views, have changed in the 12 years since he wrote The Truly Disadvantaged.
What is the relation between two of 1995's active volcanoe - the assault on affirmative action and the evisceration of the NEA and the NEH - and the sober announcement that Federal Reserve statistics show 1 percent of Americans now owning 40 percent of the nation's wealth?