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Affirmative Action Issues

Affirmative Action on Trial: Is Fairness an Elusive Goal?
What are the origins of what is known today as affirmative action, the programs that seek to remedy past discrimination against minorities and women? The original American foundation for social justice, fairness and civil rights was set forth by the signers of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…" And later, in the U.S. Constitution, the 13th Amendment made slavery illegal; the 14th Amendment guaranteed equal protection under the law; and the 15th Amendment banned racial discrimination in voting access (www.now.org).
In 1954 the Supreme Court (Brown v. Board of Education) ruled that segregation in schools was illegal. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination by any employer or labor union on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Despite these attempts at legal remedies a lengthy pattern of discrimination was allowed to continue. Following the Civil Rights Act, President Lyndon Johnson signed Executive Order 11246, which ordered federal contractors and subcontractors to "…take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color or nation origin."
Executive Order 11375 expanded 11246 – which actually provided the legal basis for affirmative action, which was designed to increase the "…recruitment, promotion, retention, and on-the-job training opportunities in employment…and [removed] barriers to admission to educational institutions" (www.feminist.org). The Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 expanded the coverage of Title VII and beefed up the coverage of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). According to the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Civil Service Reform Act (1978) put forth a policy that America&…

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