Brazil and the Law of Social Quotas: An Analysis of Whether Brazil's Recent Affirmative Action Law Would Survive Review under U.S. Constitutional Standards

By Kramer, Whitney | Journal of Law and Education, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Brazil and the Law of Social Quotas: An Analysis of Whether Brazil's Recent Affirmative Action Law Would Survive Review under U.S. Constitutional Standards


Kramer, Whitney, Journal of Law and Education


I. INTRODUCTION

On August 29, 2012, Brazil President, Dilma Rousseff, signed a new law that most Americans would consider unconstitutional and antiquated. This new law is called the Law of Social Quotas, and it requires public universities in Brazil to reserve half of their enrollment spots for public school students, in hopes of increasing the number of black children attending universities.' President Rousseff signed this law as an attempt to reverse years of racial and economic inequality in Brazil.2

This is the most current action in a string of affirmative action plans Brazil has seen in recent years. In April 2012, the Supreme Court in Brazil made a unanimous decision to uphold the racial quotas enacted by the University of Brasilia when the university required its admissions office to hold twenty percent of the enrollment spots for black and mixed-race students.1 Other countries, including the United States, face similar problems and are forced to look at making decisions regarding affirmative action plans.

United States courts repeatedly addressed affirmative action issues, sometimes upholding these affirmative action plans, but striking down any affirmative action policy that is too focused on quantitative measures.4 This article will address whether the current law approved by Brazil's president would be constitutionally upheld under strict scrutiny in American courts, and whether it will yield successful results for a more equal representation of race in Brazil's federal universities. In doing so, I will first describe the current law enacted in Brazil. Next, I will summarize the current position of the United States Supreme Court in regard to affirmative action in American universities. Finally, I will conduct a constitutional analysis on Brazil's new legislation to determine if it would be deemed constitutional in the United States. I will conclude with a brief criticism of affirmative action plans.

II. DESCRIPTION OF BRAZIL'S AFFIRMATIVE ACTION LAW FOR UNIVERSITIES

First, it is important to have a general understanding of the recently enacted Brazilian law. The Law of Social Quotas mandates that Brazil universities reserve fifty percent of their admission spots for applicants from public schools.5 From these reserved spots, a university will give priority to minorities in accordance with the racial numbers of the region where that university is located.6 In the 2010 census, a slight majority of Brazilian people called themselves black or mixed-race.7 This was a shift from past census data that showed a white majority. * This shift in racial dynamics will potentially result in a dramatic increase in black or minority university students in those Brazilian states that have a large black or minority population.9

The Law of Social Quotas gives public universities10 four years to become compliant with these new requirements." However, in 2013, at least twenty-five percent of admission spots must be reserved for public school students.12 The law requires half of the spots which will eventually be reserved for public school students to go to applicants who come from families whose income is the equivalent of 450 U.S. dollars a month or less.13 These requirements are an attempted response to years of minority oppression and racial disparity in the higher education system.14

III. UNITED STATES APPROACH TO AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PLANS AND UNIVERSITIES - A STRICT SCRUTINY APPROACH

The Supreme Court of the United States has addressed affirmative action plans in universities several times over the past few decades. Originally, in Regents of University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court held that a special admissions program for a disadvantaged or minority group of people was illegal, but that race could be a factor in admissions.15 In Bakke, a male applicant brought suit against a university who denied his admission to their medical school.16 He challenged the legality of the special admissions program the university implemented, which reserved sixteen of the 100 available positions for disadvantaged applicants. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Brazil and the Law of Social Quotas: An Analysis of Whether Brazil's Recent Affirmative Action Law Would Survive Review under U.S. Constitutional Standards
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.