Affirmative action encompasses any measure beyond simple ---

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Affirmative action encompasses any measure beyond simple ---

    The Development of Affirmative Action: 1940s-2003

    Compiled by Myisha Wilcher Roberts, CAPAA Graduate Student Researcher

    Draft • August 2003

    Affirmative action encompasses any measure beyond simple termination of discriminatory practice, which expands opportunity by permitting the consideration of race, national origin, sex, or disability, along with other criteria, where discrimination has been proven to exist. Affirmative action as we know it today is a conglomeration of a process of fragmented court orders, congressional legislation, and presidential mandates.

    1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt requires defense contractors to pledge nondiscrimination in employment on the basis of race, creed, color or national origin.

1954 In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court overrules the “separate but equal” doctrine and

    declares racially segregated public schools unconstitutional, implicitly approving the race-conscious remedy of integration.

    1961 President Kennedy creates the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Federal executive agencies are told to integrate their workforce.

    1964 Congress passes the Civil rights Act. Title VII of the law makes it illegal for public and private sector employers to discriminate against workers based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

    1965 President Johnson issues an executive order requiring federal contractors to “take affirmative action” to ensure that they do not discriminate against workers because of race, creed, color, or national origin. Two years later, gender is added to that list.

    1969 President Nixon sets goals for hiring minority contractors. His administration later presses colleges to set goals for increasing their numbers of minority students and faculty.

    1971 In Griggs vs. Duke Power Co., the Supreme Court rules that hiring standards that effectively include minorities are illegal unless employers show them to be a job-related business necessity.

    1972 Congress passes the Equal Employment Opportunity act, allowing civil lawsuits against companies for discriminatory employment practices.--

    Congress passes the Educational Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded educational institutions requiring them to take specific steps to encourage individuals of the previously excluded sex to apply for admission.

1978 In Bakke v. University of California the Supreme Court issues its first major decision on affirmative

    action, upholding the right to use race as a factor in university admissions, but prohibiting quotas.

1979 In United Steelworkers of America v. Weber, the Supreme Court holds that voluntary, private,

    race-conscious affirmative action plans are legal, so long as they are temporary and do not preclude employment opportunities for whites.

1980 In Fullivlov v. Klutznick, the Supreme Court upholds Congress’ authority to mandate limited use of

    racial and ethnic criteria in awarding public contracts to eliminate barriers to minority access.

    1989 Richmond v. Croson represents the Supreme Court’s first application of the “strict scrutiny” standard, ruling that city and stage officials may not steer contracts towards minorities, except to make up for a clear history of discrimination and to advance a compelling state interests. --

    In Antonio v. Wards cove Packing Co., the Supreme Court shifts the burden of proof from employers to

    employees, making it difficult for workers to challenge workplace discrimination. The court also rules that discrimination cannot be proven by solely relying on statistical evidence.

1990 In Metro Broadcasting v F.C.C, the Supreme Court reaffirms the constitutionality of race-conscious

    remedies adopted by Congress that achieve important governmental objectives. In this case, expanding minority participation in broadcasting was found to achieve the objective of enhancing broadcasting

    The Development of Affirmative Action: 1940s-2003

    Compiled by Myisha Wilcher Roberts, CAPAA Graduate Student Researcher

    Draft • August 2003


    1991 Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1991 in response to Wards Cove and similar employment discrimination cases. The Act reinstitutes the legitimacy of using statistical disparity and places the burden of proof back on the employers. The Act, however, contains an ironic provision, exempting the Wards Cove corporate defendant from coverage.

    1995 The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission confirms the existence of a glass ceiling that effectively excludes the advancement of women and minorities, and finds that white males continue to dominate Corporate America, occupying 5-97% of senior management positions.

    June1, 1995 California Governor Pete Wilson issues an executive order dismantling most of the states affirmative action efforts in hiring and contracting.

    June12, 1995 After a four-month review of federal affirmative action programs, President Clintons says affirmative action has been “good for America” and that the nation should “mend it not end it”.

    July 20, 1995 Board of Regents of the University of California votes to stop using “race, religion, gender,

    color, ethnicity or national origin” as criteria in its admissions policies and hiring and contracting practices.

    The state of California enacts SP-1.

    August 10,1995 Governor Pete Wilson files lawsuit with the California state Court of Appeals declaring his own state’s affirmative action hiring and contracting plans unconstitutional.

1996 Proposition 209, which ends all forms of affirmative action in state employment, passes in California thThe U.S. 5 Circuit rules against the University of Texas law school in Hopwood v. State of Texas prohibiting

    the use of race as an admissions criterion or in the recruitment, provision of financial assistance or in retention. The ruling also applies to the states of Mississippi and Louisiana.

    1997 Four White applicants who had been denied admission to the University of Washington law school file a lawsuit challenging the use of race in the schools admission process.

    1998 Voters in Washington state pass Initiative 200 (I-200), the University of Washington proceeds to eliminate the consideration of race, ethnicity, and gender from its admissions processes. Gov. George W. Bush signs the “Texas Ten Percent Plan” into law, guaranteeing high-school graduates in

    the top 10 percent of their classes admission to the state college or university of their choice.

    1999 The University of California Board of Regents adopts a “4percent plan,” making students in the top 4 percent of their high school graduating classes eligible for admission to a UC school. November 1999 Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signs an executive order, the One Florida Initiative, which eliminates race and ethnicity as admissions factors in the states university system.

2000 In place of affirmative action, Florida adopts the “Talented 20 Program,” which guarantees college

    admission to students graduating in the top 20 percent of their classes and completing a 19-unit academic high school curriculum.

     th2001The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11 Circuit rules the University of Georgia’s admissions policy

    unconstitutional because it gives a fixed preference to non-White applicants. In rendering its decision the court calls into question whether the Bakke ruling provided justification for the use of race in admissions decisions.--

    The state of California formally rescinds SP-1, even though the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996 had rendered it superfluous.

     th2002 In the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, the 6 Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the University of

    Michigan’s law school admissions policy. In a 5-4 decision the appellate court, found diversity to be a

    compelling state interests. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the case of Gratz v. Bollinger undergraduates from the University of Michigan challenge the schools admissions policies. The plaintiffs filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the case

    The Development of Affirmative Action: 1940s-2003

    Compiled by Myisha Wilcher Roberts, CAPAA Graduate Student Researcher

    Draft • August 2003

December 2002 The Supreme Court reviews both Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger.

    January 16, 2003 President George W. Bush denounces the use of affirmative action in University of Michigan’s admissions policies as “divisive, unfair, and unconstitutional.” He directs his administration to join the legal case against the schools admissions policy.

    June 24, 2003 In a 5-to-4 decision The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the use of affirmative action in the Grutter v. Bollinger case. Ruling that the University of Michigan’s law school admissions policy was narrowly tailored to further a compelling interest in “obtaining educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

    June 24, 2003 In the case of Gratz v. Bollinger involving the University of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions policies, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected its use of affirmative action, on the grounds that the university’s current policy was not “narrowly tailored to achieve educational diversity”.


    Erik Lords. (2003). Taking Sides. Black Issues in Higher Education: 20(1), 27-31

    Bush opposes diversity policy at University. (2003, January 16). The Los Angeles Times, p. A1.

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