13.6 Affirmative Action
Affirmative action includes several programs aimed at achieving equality of outcome, as well as equality of opportunity. Thus methods such as preferential recruitment and treatment, numerical goals, quotas and set aside in employment, are used to remedy the previous effects of discrimination. This preferential treatment is evident when the minority groups enter into contracts with a municipal or state agency. For instance, companies that are Minority or Women Business Enterprises (MBE/ WBE) may be favored over companies owned by white males.
13.6a Reverse discrimination
The Supreme Court issued an unusual ruling in the
controversial case of Regents of the University of California
versus Bakke in 1978. It stated that the practice of setting
aside a specific number of places in a medical school class for
minorities, was a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
the Fourteenth Amendment. It also ordered that admission should
be given to a white applicant who had earlier been denied it.
13.6b Challenges to affirmative action
The workplace and several public institutions have changed, owing to affirmative action policies, which have been highly beneficial to white women. Many state and federal programs that were discriminating on the basis of race and gender, were struck down by the courts during the 1990s. Though public opinion broadly supports ending affirmative actions, initiatives to end them has been challenged in the federal court.