Affirmative Action policies have tried to remedy past oppression and discrimination in our society for over 50 years. In this six-session course, we will consider Supreme Court decisions with a particular focus on their impact on higher education admissions and other educational contexts over this span of years. We will also study Affirmative Action cases in other contexts, like hiring, that clarify the Supreme Court’s evolving jurisprudence over time.
We also will examine the essential conflict between those who believe that the Constitution requires that policies in these areas be gender and color-blind despite our history of systematically disadvantaging generations of women and people of color and those who believe that constitutional decision-making must take gender and race into account because of that history. Questions we will discuss include:
What are the costs and benefits of race-conscious policies?
Does the law require that policies and procedures in these areas always be color-blind?
Are Affirmative Action policies in conflict with the American value of individual merit?
Can Affirmative Action policies, intended to remedy centuries of oppression, themselves racist?
Should Affirmative Action programs and policies be a temporary or a permanent feature of our society?