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Affirmative Action vs. Government Sanctioned Discrimination

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Is Affirmative Action allowable discrimination?

Putting aside the question of how effective affirmative action is, is it logical for government to sanction some discrimination and prohibit other discrimination?

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Solution Summary

This is a 8,673 word document regarding what affirmation action is about by explaining its history, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and its legal challenges. The document includes the informational background and legal history, with case law cited, to assist a student respond to some affirmative action questions. It includes pointers on how a student can respond to these questions.

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What is affirmative action?

There are different ways affirmative action has been defined depending on whether one is for it or against it. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Affirmative Action as

". . .positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded." (FN1)

Affirmative action has been and continues to be a very controversial issue. There are generally two view points to the affirmative action controversy:

Affirmative action levels the playing field of past injustices that have affected racial minorities and women.

Affirmative action is reverse discrimination which has reinforced and continued prejudices in the society.

History of affirmative action:

The term "affirmative action" was first used during President John F. Kennedy's administration when he issued Executive Order 10925. This Executive Order required federal contractors to hire more racial minorities. The intent of the Executive Order was to give racial minorities an opportunity to show their skills in the construction field.

In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act under the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act guaranteed equality to all blacks and effectively ended the Jim Crow laws in the country.

Note: Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in existence between 1876 and 1965 which allowed racial segregation in all public facilities like restaurants, schools, restrooms, and in public transportation.

To enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 implementing affirmative action policies so as to assist in remedying the wrongs of the past. President Johnson eloquently expressed the intentions of affirmative action in the Executive Order when he said, "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, `You're free to compete with all the others,'and justly believe that you have ...

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