Affirmative Action or Reverse Discrimination Colleen Koehn Business Law 1038 Instructor Jackie Sexson March 1, 2010 South University Online There has been a large debate in recent years if affirmative action has gone against the American way, has affirmative action caused reverse discrimination? The establishment of affirmative action was put into place to create equal rights for racial minorities, ethnic minorities, women, the physically disabled and those who served in the military. Affirmative Action was born during the civil rights movement to give special consideration to minorities and women in the work place and education.
In order for businesses and schools to increase their diversity they put in place quota systems. The quota system put admissions officers in a position to hire or select students based on their race or sex. Affirmative Action was put into place to equal out discrimination and give all qualified applicants the ability to apply. It was never to be a quota system and for employers or schools to except a less qualified applicant over a highly qualified white man based on race. It was never to harm anyone thru reverse discrimination.
Affirmative Action was put into place to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex, race or national origin. Writer Dan Froomkin (1998) with the Washington Post brings up the question that affirmative action may not be correcting the problem, “Affirmative Action is the nation’s most ambitious attempt to redress its long history of racial and sexual discrimination. But these days it seems to incite, rather than ease the nation’s internal divisions. (paragraph 1) Has affirmative action gone against the American way, have we taken it so far that it has turned into reverse discrimination?
The origin of affirmative action started in 1894 with amendment 13 making slavery illegal and the amendment 14 giving all citizens equal protection under the law. President Roosevelt executive order in 1941 outlawed segregation in the hiring of minorities. Unfortunately this did not assure them of getting a job. America had a long ways to go to offer equality to all. Affirmative Action was introduced by President Kennedy in 1961. Back when the American Way was very one-sided. President Kennedys attempt was to strengthen the civil rights movement and allow all equally prospering.
Affirmative action was put into place as a temporary remedy to give equal rights to all Americans. In a time in our history when racism was out of control affirmative action was needed to permit minorities the same opportunities as white males with employment, salaries, job promotions, scholarships and school admissions. This was America’s first attempt to give everyone the same opportunities in life. President Johnson stated, “We seek not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result. In 1965 President Johnson was the first to enforce affirmative action in the United States and added voting rights to minorities. Then in 1967 women were added to the list of minorities and added to the affirmative action law. (now. orgsnationalNOWtimes). The term ‘affirmative action’ came into being in 1961 with John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 in which he instructed federal contractors to take “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are treated equally without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin” (The History of Affirmative Action Policies 1).
Three years later the Civil Rights Act or Title VII was made law; discrimination was made illegal but no program was put into place to ensure that minorities were able to compete on equal terms with whites (Affirmative Action 1). As an active program, affirmative action began with Johnson; Executive Order 11246 dictated that all firms under contract with the federal government take affirmative action against discrimination; it also created with Office of Federal Contract Compliance to enforce the policy (Affirmative Action 2).
The Nixon administration created a more tangible plan and laid the foundations for affirmative action as it currently operates; the Nixon plan, called the Philadelphia Plan, set minimum standards but did not require them to be met by contractors. “After the implementation of the Philadelphia Plan, legislation was passed at the federal, state and municipal level implementing affirmative action plans using the Philadelphia Plan as a model. Today, almost all government affirmative action plans are offshoots of the Philadelphia Plan” (Affirmative Action 2-3).
Affirmative Action was not put in place to cause reverse discrimination. In the 1978 Bakke case, (www. infoplease. com) the Supreme Court upheld a decision to outlaw quota systems. In this case it brought up issues of reverse discrimination against a white man being turned down by admission to a medical college based on quotas the college had in place to reserve placements in their college for minorities. The college continued to overlook Bakke because he was a white male and they had a quota to meet to enroll minorities. With their quota system in place they continue to overlook Bakke and except less qualified minorities.
This lead the Supreme Court to rule this as reverse discrimination and outlaw the quota system. In an article in the Washington Post called “Affirmative Action Under Attack” by Dan Froomkin (1998) he states that, “admission officers are put in a position to hire minorities over qualified whites based on quotas. ”(paragraph 9) Affirmative action was not developed to put unqualified applicants into positions but to level the opportunities for all that are qualified to apply and receive the position that is opened within a job or school.
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first women named to the US Supreme Court. She was involved in the Grutter vs. Bollinger case. Grutters was being overlooked for acceptance to a law school based on a quota system they had in place to accept a certain number of minorities. The college was accepting under qualified minority applicants and overlooking Grutters. In this case O’Connor stated, “In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry it is necessary that the path of leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity. When looking at court cases involving Affirmative action there is another case Ricci vs. DeStefano. In this case it was about White and Hispanic firefighters being denied promotions due to the fact that no African American passed the promotion test given by the fire station. In June 2009 in the case Ricci v. DeStefano in New Haven, Conn. a group of White and Hispanic firefighters stating that they were a subject of reverse discrimination. The case fought that firefighters were denied promotions based on their skin color.
New Haven rejected all promotions when they received the written test scores and no African American and only two Hispanics would be eligible for promotions. The city feared a lawsuit. Fear of litigation from minorities resulted in the ones that did pass not receiving their promotions. The test was equally given to all candidates of all race and ethnic backgrounds. The Second Circuit Court affirmed and held that the city of New Haven violated Title VII by discarding. testresults. (http://www. lawmemo. om/supreme/case/Ricci/) This case brings up the question if the Civil Rights Act violates the constitutional rights of equal opportunity for all. Have we created reverse discrimination because of the fear of lawsuits? In this case White and Hispanic firefighters that passed the promotion test where over looked and not given their promotion due to no African American and only two Hispanics passing the test. If America is to truly remedy disadvantage, then qualifications of an individual should be considered over the basis of race.
In today’s time when everyone has the opportunity to prosper and all Americans receive the same education from Kindergarten thru high school then why do we set preferences and quotas based on racial minorities, ethnic minorities, women, the physically disabled and those who served in the military and not on the characteristics and qualities of individuals. Have we taken affirmative action too far? Our countries racist past cannot be corrected with more racism. Affirmative action has not corrected the problem of discrimination over the last 25 years.
It cannot correct racism, which unfortunately is a trait that some individuals possess. Perhaps we are still trying to fix the problem that no longer exists with equal opportunities for all. Race, ethnicity and gender are human traits not qualifications. Affirmative action can have a tragic side effect on a minority’s significant achievement as . well. It brings up the question whether the minority deserved it or was it only because of their race or gender. Affirmative action in today’s time only seems to keep feeding the racism in our country.
The debate will rage on at this point in our nation’s history, does affirmative action make things better or worse? References: “Affirmative Action. ” Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law. Ed. Shirelle Phelps. Gale Group, 2003. eNotes. com. 2006. 24 April, 2006. ;http://law. enotes. com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/affirmative-action; “Affirmative Action History” The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © Brunner, 2007,ColumbiaUniversityPresshttp://www. infoplease. com/ce6/history/A0841421. tml Brunner, Borguna (2006) Affirmative Action History, retrieved from www. infoplease. com Froomkin, Dan (1998) Affirmative Action under Attack, Washington Post, retrieved from www. washingtonpost. com Sykes, Marquita (1995) “The Origins of Affimative Action”Nation Now Times article retrieved from now. orgsnationalNOWtimes. Find law Supreme Court Docket“Gutter vs. Bollinger(2003) http://supreme. lp. findlaw. com/supreme_court/docket/2002/april. html http://www. lawmemo. com/supreme/case/Ricci/ sunysb. edu/diversity/glossary. html