Essay Example on Affirmative action laws policies and Guidelines

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Newspaper Assignment Affirmative action laws policies and guidelines are intended to give ethnic or racial minorities opportunities and advantages both to remedy past discrimination and to increase diversity within programs and institutions Such affirmative action policies have been implemented in order to regulate admissions processes for schools and other educational establishments among other areas Some people argue that affirmative action policies lead to a greater diversity on campus and help open the door to underprivileged minority students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to receive a quality education

Thus one might see affirmative action as a necessary step to implement the principles of educational integration articulated by the US Supreme Court in the landmark 1954 decision of Brown v Board of Education 1953 which had ruled that barring African Americans from white secondary schools was unconstitutional racial discrimination However others say that affirmative action policies result in reverse racism whereby African American students receive an unfair advantage over white students Affirmative Action Grutter v Bollinger 2003 was a landmark case in which the United States Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School although it restricted the types of affirmative action policies that the universities could implement Oyez 

The case was brought by Barbara Grutter who applied for admission to the University of Michigan Law School She claimed that although she had qualified grades as an undergraduate and a high LSAT score she was nevertheless denied admission due to racial factors The University of Michigan admitted that it did factor race into its admissions decisions because it wanted to increase campus diversity In order to achieve the necessary diversity the University of Michigan Admissions Department had created a policy to make sure that a critical mass of its student body was non white The federal district court however ruled that the University was not allowed to use race at all in its admissions decisions and that the critical mass standard was essentially a racial quota which the court determined was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment


The U S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the district court s notion that the critical mass approach was an unconstitutional quota and ruled instead that the University could admit students based on racial lines in order to increase diversity It ruled that the Supreme Court s earlier decision Regents of the University of California v Bakke 1978 set binding precedent that allowed the University to admit non white students for the purpose of increasing campus diversity Oyez The United States Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School Justice Sandra Day O'Connor writing for the majority in a 5 4 decision and joined by Justices Stevens Souter Ginsburg and Breyer ruled that the University of Michigan Law School had a compelling interest in promoting diversity in its entering law school class and therefore had the right to admit students based on racial factors as long as those factors were used as part of a larger admissions review that considered other factors as well Oyez According to the court the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not actually prohibit the use of race in admissions altogether but only to the use of fixed numerical quotas whereby a predetermined number of non white students would be admitted each year Oyez

Because the Michigan admissions process took race into account only as one of many factors and had no set number of slots set aside for non white students the court concluded that there was no quota and that the policy was therefore constitutional Oyez In response Justices William Rehnquist Antonin Scalia Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas each dissented Although they each wrote separate opinions they all fundamentally rejected Michigan s critical mass policy because they saw it as a disguise masking outright discrimination against white students in favor of numerically based racial balancing They even appeared to go so far as to question whether the educational benefits gained from a diverse student body constitute a governmental interest at all Although Justice O Connor s opinion held that the University of Michigan s affirmative action policies were constitutional she also wrote that The Court expects that 25 years from now the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary implying that affirmative action will be unnecessary because racial prejudice will be mostly eradicated Oyez

However race is clearly still relevant today The unemployment rate for blacks as recently as 2013 was double that of whites and the wealth gap between whites and non whites had increased over the prior 25 years perhaps suggesting an increase in racial disparities and even institutional racism at least up until the time of the study The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap Explaining the Black White Economic Divide Thomas Shapiro Tatjana Meschede Sam Osoro Indeed given the rise of Donald Trump and the resurgence of neo Nazi and white nationalist groups in the United States the issue of equal protection is arguably even more relevant today than it was when Grutter was decided In any event it is clear that Grutter was a landmark decision in the history of United States and its vision of affirmative action will surely be debated on into the future

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