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AFFIRMATIVE ACTION TIMELINE for Timeline of Affirmative


									                            Timeline of Affirmative Action Milestones
                             [ Read more about the history of affirmative action ]

by Borgna Brunner

         1960s                1970s                     1980s                       1990s         2000s

                    Executive Order 10925 makes the first reference to "affirmative action"

  March 6,          President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order 10925, which creates the
  1961              Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and mandates that projects financed
                    with federal funds "take affirmative action" to ensure that hiring and employment
                    practices are free of racial bias.

                    Civil Rights Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson
  July 2,
  1964              The most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act
                    prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin.

                    Speech defining concept of affirmative action

                    In an eloquent speech to the graduating class at Howard University, President
                    Johnson frames the concept underlying affirmative action, asserting that civil rights
                    laws alone are not enough to remedy discrimination:
                    "You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: 'now, you are free to go
  June 4,
                    where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.' You do not
  1965              take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the
                    starting line of a race, saying, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still
                    justly believe you have been completely fair . . . This is the next and more profound
                    stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not
                    just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but
                    equality as a fact and as a result."

                    Executive Order 11246 enforces affirmative action for the first time

                    Issued by President Johnson, the executive order requires government contractors to
  Sept. 24,
                    "take affirmative action" toward prospective minority employees in all aspects of
  1965              hiring and employment. Contractors must take specific measures to ensure equality
                    in hiring and must document these efforts. On Oct. 13, 1967, the order was
                    amended to cover discrimination on the basis of gender.

                    The Philadelphia Order

                    Initiated by President Richard Nixon, the "Philadelphia Order" was the most forceful
                    plan thus far to guarantee fair hiring practices in construction jobs. Philadelphia was
                    selected as the test case because, as assistant secretary of labor Arthur Fletcher
  1969              explained, "The craft unions and the construction industry are among the most
                    egregious offenders against equal opportunity laws . . . openly hostile toward letting
                    blacks into their closed circle." The order included definite "goals and timetables." As
                    President Nixon asserted, "We would not impose quotas, but would require federal
                    contractors to show 'affirmative action' to meet the goals of increasing minority

  June 28,          Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
           This landmark Supreme Court case imposed limitations on affirmative action to
           ensure that providing greater opportunities for minorities did not come at the
           expense of the rights of the majority—affirmative action was unfair if it led to
           reverse discrimination. The case involved the Univ. of California, Davis, Medical
           School, which had two separate admissions pools, one for standard applicants, and
           another for minority and economically disadvantaged students. The school reserved
           16 of its 100 places for this latter group.

           Allan Bakke, a white applicant, was rejected twice even though there were minority
           applicants admitted with significantly lower scores than his. Bakke maintained that
           judging him on the basis of his race was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of
           the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that while race was a
           legitimate factor in school admissions, the use of such inflexible quotas as the
           medical school had set aside was not. The Supreme Court, however, was split 5–4 in
           its decision on the Bakke case and addressed only a minimal number of the many
           complex issues that had sprung up about affirmative action.

           Fullilove v. Klutznick

           While Bakke struck down strict quotas, in Fullilove the Supreme Court ruled that
           some modest quotas were perfectly constitutional. The Court upheld a federal law
July 2,
           requiring that 15% of funds for public works be set aside for qualified minority
1980       contractors. The "narrowed focus and limited extent" of the affirmative action
           program did not violate the equal rights of non-minority contractors, according to
           the Court—there was no "allocation of federal funds according to inflexible
           percentages solely based on race or ethnicity."

           Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education

           This case challenged a school board's policy of protecting minority employees by
           laying off non-minority teachers first, even though the non-minority employees had
           seniority. The Supreme Court ruled against the school board, maintaining that the
May 19,    injury suffered by non-minorities affected could not justify the benefits to minorities:
1986       "We have previously expressed concern over the burden that a preferential-layoffs
           scheme imposes on innocent parties. In cases involving valid hiring goals, the
           burden to be borne by innocent individuals is diffused to a considerable extent
           among society generally. Though hiring goals may burden some innocent individuals,
           they simply do not impose the same kind of injury that layoffs impose. Denial of a
           future employment opportunity is not as intrusive as loss of an existing job."

           United States v. Paradise

           In July 1970, a federal court found that the State of Alabama Department of Public
           Safety systematically discriminated against blacks in hiring: "in the thirty-seven-year
           history of the patrol there has never been a black trooper." The court ordered that
           the state reform its hiring practices to end "pervasive, systematic, and obstinate
Feb. 25,   discriminatory exclusion of blacks." A full 12 years and several lawsuits later, the
1987       department still had not promoted any blacks above entry level nor had they
           implemented a racially fair hiring system. In response, the court ordered specific
           racial quotas to correct the situation. For every white hired or promoted, one black
           would also be hired or promoted until at least 25% of the upper ranks of the
           department were composed of blacks. This use of numerical quotas was challenged.
           The Supreme Court, however, upheld the use of strict quotas in this case as one of
           the only means of combating the department's overt and defiant racism.
            City of Richmond v. Croson

            This case involved affirmative action programs at the state and local levels—a
            Richmond program setting aside 30% of city construction funds for black-owned
            firms was challenged. For the first time, affirmative action was judged as a "highly
            suspect tool." The Supreme Court ruled that an "amorphous claim that there has
            been past discrimination in a particular industry cannot justify the use of an
Jan. 23,
            unyielding racial quota." It maintained that affirmative action must be subject to
1989        "strict scrutiny" and is unconstitutional unless racial discrimination can be proven to
            be "widespread throughout a particular industry." The Court maintained that "the
            purpose of strict scrutiny is to `smoke out' illegitimate uses of race by assuring that
            the legislative body is pursuing a goal important enough to warrant use of a highly
            suspect tool. The test also ensures that the means chosen `fit' this compelling goal
            so closely that there is little or no possibility that the motive for the classification was
            illegitimate racial prejudice or stereotype."

            Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña

            What Croson was to state- and local-run affirmative action programs, Adarand was
            to federal programs. The Court again called for "strict scrutiny" in determining
            whether discrimination existed before implementing a federal affirmative action
June 12,    program. "Strict scrutiny" meant that affirmative action programs fulfilled a
1995        "compelling governmental interest," and were "narrowly tailored" to fit the particular
            situation. Although two of the judges (Scalia and Thomas) felt that there should be a
            complete ban on affirmative action, the majority of judges asserted that "the
            unhappy persistence of both the practice and the lingering effects of racial
            discrimination against minority groups in this country" justified the use of race-based
            remedial measures in certain circumstances.

            White House guidelines on affirmative action

            President Clinton asserted in a speech that while Adarand set "stricter standards to
            mandate reform of affirmative action, it actually reaffirmed the need for affirmative
July 19,
            action and reaffirmed the continuing existence of systematic discrimination in the
1995        United States." In a White House memorandum on the same day, he called for the
            elimination of any program that "(a) creates a quota; (b) creates preferences for
            unqualified individuals; (c) creates reverse discrimination; or (d) continues even
            after its equal opportunity purposes have been achieved."

            Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School

            Cheryl Hopwood and three other white law-school applicants at the University of
            Texas challenged the school's affirmative action program, asserting that they were
            rejected because of unfair preferences toward less qualified minority applicants. As a
            result, the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals suspended the university's affirmative action
            admissions program and ruled that the 1978 Bakke decision was invalid—while
            Bakke rejected racial quotas it maintained that race could serve as a factor in
March 18,
            admissions. In addition to remedying past discrimination, Bakke maintained that the
1996        inclusion of minority students would create a diverse student body, and that was
            beneficial to the educational environment as a whole. Hopwood, however, rejected
            the legitimacy of diversity as a goal, asserting that "educational diversity is not
            recognized as a compelling state interest." The Supreme Court allowed the ruling to
            stand. In 1997, the Texas Attorney General announced that all "Texas public
            universities [should] employ race-neutral criteria."

            Note: The June 23, 2003, Supreme Court ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger invalidates

            Proposition 209 enacted in California

            A state ban on all forms of affirmative action was passed in California: "The state
Nov. 3,     shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or
1997        group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of
            public employment, public education, or public contracting." Proposed in 1996, the
            controversial ban had been delayed in the courts for almost a year before it went
            into effect.

            Initiative 200 enacted in Washington State
Dec. 3,
1998        Washington becomes the second state to abolish state affirmative action measures
            when it passed "I 200," which is similar to California's Proposition 209.

            Florida bans race as factor in college admissions.
Feb. 22,
2000        Florida legislature approves education component of Gov. Jeb Bush's "One Florida"
            initiative, aimed at ending affirmative action in the state.

            University of Michigan’s undergrad affirmative action policy

            In Gratz v. Bollinger, a federal judge ruled that the use of race as a factor in
Dec. 13,    admissions at the University of Michigan was constitutional. The gist of the
2000        university's argument was as follows: just as preference is granted to children of
            alumni, scholarship athletes, and others groups for reasons deemed beneficial to the
            university, so too does the affirmative action program serve "a compelling interest"
            by providing educational benefits derived from a diverse student body.

            Univ. of Michigan Law School's affirmative action policy

            In Grutter v. Bollinger, a case similar to the University of Michigan undergraduate
March 27,
            lawsuit, a different judge drew an opposite conclusion, invalidating the law school's
2001        policy and ruling that "intellectual diversity bears no obvious or necessary
            relationship to racial diversity." But on May 14, 2002, the decision was reversed on
            appeal, ruling that the admissions policy was, in fact, constitutional.

            Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action in University Admissions

            In the most important affirmative action decision since the 1978 Bakke case, the
            Supreme Court (5-4) upholds the University of Michigan Law School's policy, ruling
            that race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting their
            students because it furthers "a compelling interest in obtaining the educational
            benefits that flow from a diverse student body." The Supreme Court, however, ruled
June 23,
            (6-3) that the more formulaic approach of the University of Michigan's
2003        undergraduate admissions program, which uses a point system that rates students
            and awards additional points to minorities, had to be modified. The undergraduate
            program, unlike the law school's, does not provide the "individualized consideration"
            of applicants deemed necessary in previous Supreme Court decisions on affirmative

            See Grutter v. Bollinger.

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