Maintain Commitment to Affirmative Action
After more than 300 years of de facto affirmative action to benefit white males, we need affirmative action for people of color and women to offset enduring historic wrongs as well as present day inequalities. Affirmative action programs should not be based on quotas. Race and gender should not be the predominant factor in choosing qualified applicants. A good affirmative action program uses a variety of methods to achieve the goal of increasing diversity, including using race and gender as one of many factors in evaluating the suitability of an applicant.
More structural solutions are required to promote economic and educational equality, including a long overdue and practical Marshall Plan to eliminate poverty in the United States, and an education-focused restitution trust fund.
However, affirmative action remains an important opportunity-enhancing tool, as Americans for a Fair Chance, a coalition of civil rights organizations, has demonstrated. At the federal level, authentic minority set-asides and affirmative-action arrangements are a modest way to support the growth of businesses owned and controlled by people of color. Affirmative action is a modest means for businesses to redress historic discrimination. Affirmative action at universities is an important tool to promote campus diversity and educational equality.
On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its landmark ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, concerning the admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School. In a 5 to 4 decision, the majority ruled that student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify using race in university admissions. On the same day, in Gratz v. Bollinger, the Court ruled, in a 6 to 3 opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, that the undergraduate university’s use of race was too broad to achieve the university’s asserted interest in diversity and needed to be recast.
The federal government should maintain its commitment to affirmative action — even though such arrangements may violate the rules of the World Trade Organization binding on the US. We believe the WTO’s powers to be unconstitutional. The Justice Department should intervene to oppose judicial rulings against affirmative action in higher education and other spheres.