Affirmative Action Supreme Court Cases 1970s-Present

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Affirmative Action Supreme Court Cases 1970s-Present

  1. 1. Affirmative Action:Supreme Court Cases1970s-PresentBy: Gabby Putnam
  2. 2. 1978 Regents of the Universityof California v. Bakke• Facts: Allan Bakke applied to the University of California, DavisSchool of Medicine in 1973 and 1974. He was rejected bothtimes; whereas, special applicants from distinct minoritygroups were successful and had significantly lower academicqualifications. The University of California, Davis School ofMedicine reserved 16 out of the 100 spots in their programfor disadvantaged minorities. Bakke argued that this was aviolation of the Equal Protection Clause of the FourteenthAmendment under the United States Constitution.• Issue: Should race be a deciding factor in admissionprocesses?• Decision : The Supreme Court ruled that race may be a factorin determining admission to public educational institutions;however, it may not be a sole determining factor (“Regents ofthe University of California v. Bakke”).
  3. 3. 1987 Johnson v. TransportationAgency of Santa Clara County• Facts: The Transportation Agency, Santa Clara, California usedgender as a deciding factor in a promotion position wherethey appointed Dian Joyce over Paul Johnson.• Issue: Did the agency take into account the gender of eachemployer in the promotion process and ultimately violate TitleVII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?• Decision: The Supreme Court ruled six votes for theTransportation Agency and three votes against. JusticeBrennan stated that using sex as one factor among many isnot unreasonable. Ultimately, the Agency’s actions did notcreate a direct obstacle to the advancement of men (Johnsonv. Transportation Agency).
  4. 4. 1989 Wards Cove Packing Co v.Antonio• Facts: A group of nonwhite workers filed a law suit against WardsCove Packing Company for exhibiting discrimination in employmentviolating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.• Issue: Does the statistical evidence of increased numbers of whiteworkers compared to nonwhite workers prove that discriminationis evident in the workplace?• Decision: The Supreme Court had five votes for Wards CovePacking Co. and four votes against. Ultimately, Justice Byron arguedthat comparisons of race percentages in different job classes poses afalse accusation towards the employer “the proper comparison isgenerally between the racial composition of the at-issue jobs andthe racial composition of the qualified population in the relevantlabor market” (Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Antonio).• As a result of this court ruling the Civil Rights Act of 1991 was passedcircumventing 12 Supreme Court Cases and made it easier foremployees to sue in job discrimination cases and increasedemployer penalties (Mangum).
  5. 5. 1996 Piscataway v. Taxman• Facts: This case began in 1989 when, Sharon Taxman, a teacher atPiscataway High School was fired on the basis of her race. TheBoard of Education of Piscataway decided to cut an employee in thebusiness education department. Both Sharon Taxman (white) andDebra Williams (African American) were employed on the same day.The state law of New Jersey states that the school board has to cutthe newest hires first. As a result, of the affirmative action policythe in 1975 that promoted diversity within the school, Taxman losther job. Taxman took the issue to court stating that it was aviolation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Piscataway v. Taxman(1996)”).• Issue: Should the school board base their executive decisions off ofrace?• Decision: The federal district court ruled that Piscataway HighSchool’s affirmative action policy violated Title VII of the Civil RightsAct; subsequently, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld thisdecision.
  6. 6. 2003 Gratz v. Bollinger• Facts: In 1995 Jennifer Gratz with the average GPA of 3.8 andan ACT score of 25 applied to the University’s of Michigan’sCollege of Literature, Science and the Arts but was deniedapplication. The University’s policy on using race as a factor inadmissions is they admit the majority of all qualifiedapplicants who are either African American, Hispanic, orNative American and considered to be underrepresented oncampus.• Issue: Does the University of Michigan’s admissions policyviolate the Equal Protection Clause of the FourteenthAmendment?• Decision: The Supreme Court ruled a six to three opinion byChief Justice William H. Rehnquist that their policy did violatethe Equal Protection Clause (Gratz v. Bollinger).
  7. 7. 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger• Facts: In 1997 Barbara Grutter a white female with a averageGPA of 3.8 and an LSAT score of 161 applied to the Universityof Michigan’s Law school but was denied admittance. The LawSchool admits they use race as a determining factor sincethey believe it serves a “compelling interest in achievingdiversity among its student body.”• Issue: Does this racial preference violate the Equal ProtectionClause?• Decision: The Court ruled in a five to four opinion by JusticeSandra Day O’Connor that the Equal Protection Clause doesnot prohibit the Law School’s use of race in admissions toobtain the benefits of a diverse community (Grutter v.Bollinger).
  8. 8. 2007 Parents Involved inCommunity Schools v. Seattle SchoolDistrict No. 1• Facts: The Seattle School District gave students the right to apply toany high school in the District; however, certain schools werefavored in the community forcing the District to use a system oftiebreakers to decide which students would gain admission. TheDistrict used race as the second most important determining factorto maintain racial diversity. The tiebreaker was put into effect if anyschool’s student body deviated from 40% white students and 60%non-white students. The District was sued by a non-profit groupcalled Parents Involved in Community Schools for violating the EqualProtection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.• Issue: Does a school district that normally permits a student toattend the high school of their choice violate the Equal ProtectionClause by denying the student admission to their chosen schoolbecause of their race in an effort to meet desired racial quotas?• Decision: The Court ruled by a five to four vote that the racialtiebreaker is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause ofthe Fourteenth Amendment (Parents Involved in CommunitySchools v. Seattle School District No. 1).
  9. 9. 2009 Ricci v. DeStefano• Facts: This court case began when a group of whitefirefighters as well as Hispanic firefighters from the NewHaven Connecticut Fire Department filed a law suit claimingthat they experienced racial discrimination when the cityrefused to certify the results of two exams needed for theplaintiffs’ promotion to Lieutenant and Captain. The CivilService Board did not certify the exams since the resultswould have promoted a disproportionate number of whitecandidates in comparison to minority candidates.• Issue: Can the results of a valid civil service exam beexpended when they unintentionally prevent the promotionof minority candidates?• Decision: The Supreme Court came to the conclusion that bydiscarding the exams the City of New Haven violated Title VIIof the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Ricci v. DeStefano).

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