The Affirmative Action Debate

The Affirmative Action Debate

The Affirmative Action Debate

The Affirmative Action Debate

Synopsis

The Affirmative Action Debate collects the leading voices on all sides of this crucial dialogue. A provocative range of politicians, researchers, legal experts, and businesspeople dispute the best way to fight discrimination. Their essays explore such questions as, How did affirmative-action policies come to be? Who benefits most from them, and who suffers? How do these programs work in hiring, contracting, college admissions, and other fields? What will recent Supreme Court rulings and legislative initiatives mean? And, most fundamentally, does any race-conscious remedy simply perpetuate discrimination? Recognizing affirmative action as more than a black-and-white issue, this book includes the voices of women, Latinos, and Asian-Americans who are also affected but often ignored. A sourcebook of solid facts and surprising arguments.

Excerpt

A report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights provides the context for today's contentious debate over affirmative action. It notes: "Historically, discrimination against minorities and women was not only accepted, but was also governmentally required. The doctrine of white supremacy, used to support the institution of slavery, was so much part of American custom and policy that the Supreme Court of the United States in 1857 [in the Dred Scott decision] approvingly concluded that both the North and the South regarded slaves 'as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.'"

Women, like African-Americans and other racial minorities, were treated as less than full citizens throughout much of American history, though to a different degree. As Justice William J. Brennan observed, neither slaves nor women could hold office, serve on juries, or bring suit in their own names, and married women traditionally were denied the legal capacity to hold or convey property or to serve as legal guardians of their own children.

Over the past three decades, the United States has strug-

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