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

see POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION.
References in periodicals archive ?
Affirmative action can be a lightning rod for opinions and the report put the divide on full display on Twitter.
White Men Least Likely to Support Either Affirmative Action Program
When legal challenges have been brought before the Supreme Court, Catholic universities have made their support for affirmative action clear.
There's little disagreement that the practice of race-conscious affirmative action has been on the decline since the 1990s, as the federal courts have limited its use and states have acted to prohibit public universities from considering race.
Having said this, affirmative action policies are often criticised for causing reverse discrimination; and in the absence of qualified candidates, the policies may very well lead to lowering the bar for those elected.
The phrase "affirmative action" was first used in 1961 in a speech by President John F.
that appeals to a broader coalition." Eschewing affirmative action (though he has subsequently changed his mind), Wilson championed redistributive reforms through "race-neutral policies," contending that they could help the Democratic Party regain lost political support while simultaneously benefiting those further down within minority groups.
Forgotten by affirmative action opponents are the actions, pervasive societal attitude towards blacks and discrimination laws which led to the need for affirmative action.
Nixon's role in the expansion of affirmative action is interesting given his use of political strategies that exploited political symbolism and demonized African Americans and other minorities.
"Affirmative action" is a name that has been applied to a set of policies generated by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and by a series of executive orders issued by President Lyndon Johnson.
For affirmative action to be effective, it needs to target those who are flooding the prison system.
Affirmative action has been defined (Swain 1996:1) as a 'range of governmental and private initiatives that offer preferential treatment to members of designated racial or ethnic ...

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