Affirmative action is a phrase used to describe attempts to redress past discrimination by giving groups that have been discriminated against an advantage in allocating opportunities, such as jobs and admittance to colleges and universities. When affirmative action was first established over fifty years ago, the intended beneficiaries were African-Americans, but since that time, it has been used to help other groups that have experienced discrimination, such as women, Native Americans and Hispanics.
When it was established, affirmative action’s goal was to eliminate vast differences in the unemployment rate, income and poverty between African-Americans and white Americans. However, while affirmative action has been a feature of American life for over 50 years, the disparities between African-Americans and white Americans that it was intended to reduce have actually increased.
In addition, as described more below, affirmative action has generated fierce criticism, not only by those who are harmed by it, but also by individual African-Americans who have benefited from it, and the questions regarding its constitutionality are so serious that 50 years after it was first implemented, there remains a serious risk that the Supreme Court will rule that affirmative action is prohibited by the United States Constitution. As a result, alternatives to achieving affirmative action’s goals should be considered.
Over that past 50 years, the United States federal, state and local governments have enacted various laws and regulations to implement affirmative action. The first legislation addressing affirmative action was Executive Order 11246, signed in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, which required government contractors to take “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.
Johnson reasoned that after centuries of being enslaved, it was unfair to expect African-Americans to be able to compete equally with whites, and he thought that if African-Americans were given advantages when government jobs were allocated, they could overcome the harm inflicted upon them by having been enslaved and discriminated against for 150 years. He expected that affirmative action would eliminate disparities between African-Americans and whites in employment and income. However, 50 years later the disparity remains.
As of 2006, only 74% of African-Americans received high school degrees, while 85% of whites had high school degrees. Additionally, the average annual salary of an African-American male was $33,916, while the average annual salary of a white American male was almost 150% more at $52,000. Furthermore, African-American unemployment is currently 9. 5%, which is more than twice the rate of whites. As a result, it is clear that affirmative action has failed to achieve its goals. In addition to failing to achieve its goals, affirmative action raises serious constitutional questions.
Shortly after affirmative action was implemented, it was attacked as being inconsistent with the Equal Protection Provisions of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because affirmative action raises such serious constitutional questions, the Supreme Court has had to rule on its constitutionality numerous times over the past 50 years and will rule on it again in its current term. The first case in which the Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of affirmative action was the landmark case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, which was decided in 1978.
Allan Bakke, a 35 year old white man, sued the University of California Medical School at Davis because the school rejected him twice, but African-American applicants with lesser qualifications were accepted because the school reserved 16 out of its 100 spots for “qualified” minorities. In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court held that strict quota systems based on race are unconstitutional and Bakke was admitted to the University.
However, the Supreme Court held that it was not unconstitutional for race to be a factor in admission to universities as long “as constitutional limitations protecting individual rights [are] not be disregarded. ” Since the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, there have been many other cases regarding affirmative action that have reached the Supreme Court. Arguably, the most important of these cases was Grutter v. Bollinger, which was decided in 2003.
Barbara Grutter, a white female with a 3. GPA and LSAT score of 161, was denied admission to the University of Michigan Law School. The school admitted to using race as a factor in admissions, so she sued on the premise that the university’s use of race in admissions violated Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that since ethnicity is one of many factors and because it furthers “a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body,” race is allowed to be a factor in admissions.
As a result, under current law, a university may not use quotas or fixed percentages in an attempt to achieve a student population with a racial composition that is similar to that of the American population, but it is permitted to use race as a “plus factor” to foster “values beyond race alone, including enhanced classroom dialogue” because it helps foster “values beyond race alone, such as enhanced classroom dialogue. ”
In its current term, the Supreme Court is being asked to reconsider whether even using race as a “plus factor”in University admissions is permissible and there is a real chance that it might find it unconstitutional. can you find a cite to this] Even if the Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in the context of University admissions, based on its prior decisions, it seems unlikely to draw a clear line between impermissible affirmative action and permissible affirmative action, which will likely lead to many more years of court challenges. Courts have also found that the use of affirmative action to allocate jobs to minorities is unconstitutional.
For example, in 2009 the city of New Haven, Connecticut decided to disregard the results of a promotional test for firefighters because using the test to determine which firefighters to promote would have resulted in the city having a disproportionate amount of white firefighters as compared to black firefighters. The city feared that if it did not promote more African-American firefighters, it would be sued by the African-American firefighters. However, after it disregarded the tests, it was sued by 18 white firefighters who claimed that they were owed promotions since they had performed well on the test.
The white firefighters won, with [the court][WHAT COURT] ruling that “that race-based action like the City’s in this case is impermissible under Title VII” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which says “consideration of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in employment practices” is illegal. These cases show that when affirmative action is used to help minorities gain admission to universities or to obtain a job, it is at serious risk of being held unconstitutional or, at best, being upheld on very narrow grounds.
That is one reason it should be reconsidered. In addition, affirmative actions deprives whites, who have committed no crime and who may not have ever engaged in discrimination, of opportunities that, based on the merits, they have rightfully earned. A recent study by Princeton University reveals that at elite universities, being African-American is worth 230 SAT points and being Hispanic is worth 185 SAT points (on the 1600 point scale).
Similarly, in 1995 at the University of California at Berkeley the average GPA and SAT score for a rejected white student was 3. 66 and 1142, respectively. The average GPA and SAT score for an accepted African-American student was 3. 66 and 1030, respectively. This reverse discrimination results in many white students being denied admission that they have rightfully earned. Another adverse consequence of affirmative action is that it actually hurts the minorities in the job market. Professor of Law Richard H.
Sander wrote in the Stanford Law Review that affirmative action hurts those who are admitted to universities as a result of the policy. This is because they are not able to meet the high standards of the institutions that they attend and, as a result, they get bad grades. Professor Sander concluded that it looks better in the job market for these students to get good grades in a not as a good school than to struggle academically in a school to which they would not have been admitted in the absence of affirmative action.
Based on this study, it appears that many African-American students who are admitted to schools only as a result of affirmative action would have been better off if they had attended schools to which they would have been admitted in the absence of affirmative action. As a result, affirmative action hurts the very people that is trying to help. Additionally, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court said that affirmative action hurts African-Americans because “blacks who benefited from [affirmative action] were being judged by a double standard.
This is because minorities that gain admission into elite schools are not taken seriously because people think their achievements are simply a product of affirmative action. Famously, Justice Thomas says his law degree from Yale University was worth “15 cents” because he felt that nobody took it seriously because they thought it was given to him by affirmative action and he didn’t deserve it, which hurt him while looking for a job. For the reasons described above, affirmative action should be reconsidered.
One alternative to affirmative action is affirmative action based on socioeconomic status, rather than race. This means changing the focus of the people affirmative action is helping to people who have faced a lot of adversity lives, not based on their race. In other words, this is exactly what race based affirmative action tries to accomplish, but race based affirmative action assumes that all blacks are worthy of affirmative action, and it doesn’t deal with the whites who have lived hard lives because the race based affirmative action model assumes that only groups who have been disadvantaged need help.
This can be achieved through percent plans. A “percent plan” guarantees admission into state universities the top percent of graduates in certain high schools. This helps open the door to students from low income high schools. Additionally, colleges have begun to put questions regarding applicant’s socioeconomic situations on their applications. A recent study revealed that colleges that use socioeconomic based admissions increased or maintained the proportion of African Americans in their student bodies.
So, not only does focusing on socioeconomic inequality make college admissions more fair, but it also increases or maintains the amount of African Americans in their schools. However, affirmative action in the workplace does not have as simple a solution. One reason for this is because companies make it easier for blacks because they want to increase diversity, not because the government makes them increase diversity.