Affirmative Action Pro and Con
Affirmative Action Revisited
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report entitled "Affirmative Action Revisited: A Legal History and Prospectus," last updated Dec. 15, 2004, Charles V. Dale writes notably:
"The origins of affirmative action law may be traced to the early 1960's ... Judicial rulings from this period recognized an 'affirmative duty,' cast upon local school boards by the Equal Protection Clause, to desegregate formerly 'dual school' systems and to eliminate 'root and branch' the last 'vestiges' of state-enforced segregation....
Congress and the Executive Branch soon followed by adopting a panoply of laws and regulations authorizing, either directly or by judicial or administrative interpretation, 'race-conscious' strategies to promote minority opportunity in jobs, education, and governmental contracting. The basic statutory framework for affirmative action in employment and education derives from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Public and private employers with 15 or more employees are subject to a comprehensive code of equal employment opportunity regulations under Title VII of the 1964 Act....
Official approval of 'affirmative action' remedies was further codified by federal regulations construing the 1964 Act’s Title VI, which prohibits racial or ethnic discrimination in all federally assisted 'programs' and activities, including public or private educational institutions. The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education interpreted Title VI to require schools and colleges to take affirmative action to overcome the effects of past discrimination and to encourage 'voluntary affirmative action to attain a diverse student body.'"
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) writes in its Mar. 12, 2002 paper entitled "Affirmative Action":
"Affirmative action is not a 'quota' system, not 'preferential treatment,' not a club for bludgeoning employers and educational institutions into accepting unqualified workers and students. It's a strategy for curing what ails our society's institutions, which are still plagued with discriminatory attitudes and practices that exclude millions of qualified and deserving people from the American mainstream. Affirmative action is an instrument of inclusion, a means of bringing all Americans into society's mainstream as equal competitors in the race of life.
Affirmative action is still needed. Although women and people of color have come a long way in the decades since the Civil Rights Act was passed, discrimination persists.... Affirmative action does not penalize white males. Fairness requires ending biased practices, not perpetuating them, and that includes ending the unjust advantages traditionally enjoyed by whites and white men. The conscientious effort to hire or admit women and people of color is a way for employers and schools to break their habit of favoring whites and males, and a way to facilitate the transition to nondiscriminatory practices."
Ward Connerly, former University of California Regent, in his Mar. 27. 2000 interview with Salon.com entitled "A 'Poison' Divide Us," said:
"In my view, using the powers of government to make sure that people are not discriminated against, I think that was the original intent of affirmative action.... But when it gets to the point where you are making a selection for someone to be admitted to the university or someone to be hired for a job, and to have one standard for someone who is black and another standard for someone who is white ... I think that's a preference.... I think that when you apply different standards to people, that's discriminatory, no matter what you want to call it....
But as long as you have this paradigm where people seem to be using race and gender as a means of making hiring decisions, as long as they keep uttering this mindless blather about 'we've got to achieve diversity,' it kind of taints the whole process. And the decisions that they're making would be no different, in my view, if they just discarded the whole system....
If we really wanted to help black people -- let's just take black people for an example -- we would not be putting so much emphasis on getting them into Berkeley as we would giving them the equivalent money to go out and buy their own cabs, or get the tools to become an electrician or a plumber, or the money to take a vocational course.... But we don't even look at that. If I proposed that, they'd think I was a kook, because we're so hung up on the notion that you either go to college or life's a failure. And if you don't get into Berkeley and you're black, there must be some institutional racism there."