Reverse discrimination

Reverse Discrimation
Table of Contents
Introduction and Background…………………………1
The Issues and Arguments for each side……………….2
The Opinions and Decisions of the Supreme Court……….4
My Personal Opinion and Arguments……………………5
Relevance to Current Issues…………………………6
Introduction and Background
In 1973 a thirty-three year-old Caucasian male named Allan Bakke
applied to and was denied admission to the University of California Medical
School at Davis. In 1974 he filed another application and was once again
rejected, even though his test scores were considerably higher than various
minorities that were admitted under a special program. This special
program specified that 16 out of 100 possible spaces for the students in
the medical program were set aside solely for minorities, w hile the other
84 slots were for anyone who qualified, including minorities.

What happened to Bakke is known as reverse discrimination. Bakke
felt his rejections to be violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the
14th amendment, so he took the University of California Regents to the
Superior Court of California. It was ruled that “the admissions program
violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th
Amendment”1 The clause reads as follows:
“…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the
privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor without due
process of the law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the
equal protection of the laws.”2
The court ruled that race could not be a factor in admissions.

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However, they did not force the admittance of Bakke because the court could
not know if he would have been admitted if the special admissions program
for minorities did not exist . Bakke disagreed with the court on this
issue and he brought it before the California Supreme Court.

The California Supreme Court held that it was the University’s
burden to prove that Bakke would not have been admitted if the special
program was not in effect. The school could not meet this requirement, and
Bakke was admitted by court order. However, the University appealed to the
Supreme Court for “certiorari”, which was granted, and the order to admit
Bakke was suspended pending thCourt’s decision.3 The Issues and Arguments
for Each Side
“Bakke was the most significant civil rights case to reach the
United States Supreme Court since Brown v. Board the Education of Topeka,
Kansas.”4 The special admissions program at Davis tried to further
integrate the higher education system because merely removing the
barriers, as the Brown case did, did not always work. In short, Bakke was
questioning how far the University of California Medical School at Davis
could go the try to make up for past racial discrimination and segregatio

The arguments for and against the special admissions program are
complicated. The arguments for special admissions are as follows: Because
of past injustices, compensation should be granted to minorities, and one
possible form is as affirma tive action, which, in this case, is the role
of the special admissions program. In addition, racial diversity in
educational institutions was seen as a plus. The diversity would teach
students more about different races and religions and prepare t hem for the
future when they would most likely have to work along side someone
different from themselves. Hopefully, minorities in professional areas
would return to their minority community and be seen as a role model for
minority youth while benef itting the entire community as well. The final
argument for the special admissions program is that advantage should not be
associated with race, i.e. because one is of the Caucasian majority he/she
should not have more advantages and likewise becaus e one is of a minority
he/she should not be disadvantaged.

The arguments against the special admissions program were based
upon the fact that the Constitution was intended to overlook race and
ethnicity in public authority and decisions.The fault in special
admissions programs is that they will us e skin color as a more important
factor than academic and personal merit. Thus, those who deserve
advancement may not receive it, due to affirmative action and the
associated reverse discrimination. By doing so, the various ethnic groups
will be di vided and possibly end up competing. Another problem with the
special admissions program is that it does not take into account the
disadvantaged who are in the majority, not the minority. And finally, it
is seen as charity to the minorities by many individuals and civil rights
groups. The Opinion of the Supreme Court
The decision of the Supreme Court was seen as “something for
everyone.” In other words, each side, although not completely gaining
their ends, furthered their cause. The special admissions program at Davis
was deemed unconstitutional becaus e it specified a number of minority
slots. However, the court upheld the use of race or ethnicity as “a ‘plus’
in a particular applicant’s file, so long as it does not insulate the
individual from comparison with all other candidates for the availab le
“Justice Powell was the key to the Bakke decision; In fact, it
could be said that he created both majorities in addition to merely
agreeing with them.”6 The decision to do away with the Davis special
admissions quota system was supported by Powell, Chief Justice Burger,
Justice Rehnquist, Justice Potter Stewart, and Justice John Paul Stevens.

They saw the Bakke case as a dispute which could be settled by the 1964
Civil Rights Act without even calling constitutional matters into questi on.

“Title VI of the act, they pointed out, barred any discrimination on the
ground of race, color, or national origin in any program receiving federal
financial assistance.”7 Therefore, the university had violated that part
of the 1964 Civil Right s Act.

However, Powell thought differently. Instead of ruling out
constitutional involvement, he saw the equal protection clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment and Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as equal.

Therefore, he said, “what violated one violated the other.

“The Davis special admissions program used an explicit racial
classification, Powell noted. Such classifications were not always
unconstitutional, he continued, ‘but when a state’s distribution of
benefits or imposition of burdens hinges on. .. the color of a person’s
skin or ancestry, that individual is entitled to demonstration that the
challenged classification is necessary to promote a substantial state
interest.’ Powell could find no substantial interest that justified the
establis hment of the… quota system. Not even the desire to remedy past
discrimination was a sufficient justification, he said.”8
Powell did not agree completely that all racial classifications
were unconstitutional. He did think that affirmative action, when it
considered race, was okay. He demonstrated this when he voted on this
point with Justices Brennan, Marshal, White, and Harry A. Blackmun.

After eight months, a vote of 5-4 decided that Bakke be admitted to
the medical school at Davis. The decision on the constitutional issue was
that a numerical quota was unconstitutional unless it was used to right a
previous discrimination. However, using race and religion as a plus in
educational admissions was deemed constitutional. My Personal Opinion and
I agree partly with the ruling of the Supreme Court. The decision
that Bakke’s Constitutional rights were violated I feel is correct. However,
if they were, than any quota based on race is unconstitutional also.

Whether or not there is an actual number for a quota, or just a preference
to admit someone of a non-Caucasian race to an educational institution
merely because of their race. This may curb someone’s opportunities just
because they were white. This IS reverse discrimination, and it should not
be practiced. Race should NOT be considered at all in any admissions
program that is federally funded. By trying to right past wrongs on
minorities by incurring wrongs on the majority today, it will start a cycle
that will, in th e worst case, be never ending. For example, if yesterday
a Negro could not get into a college because of discrimination, then today
we’ll let him in because we want to try to right the wrong of yesterday.

But in doing so, we must not admit a white because he is white. And then
tomorrow do we have to keep out a black to let the white in? It is an
endless cycle that is wrong and unconstitutional. Race should be
overlooked all together, and only academic merit and community involvement
should be considered in any federally funded institution. Relevance to
Current Issues
Affirmative action has recently become an issue in the Supreme
Court again. Because Clarence Thomas is replacing Thurgood Marshall, and
Thomas is against Affirmative Action, and Marshall was for it, the past
decision may be overturned. In a 1989 case it was ruled that the legacy of
discrimination was not enough to validate the use of hiring quotas.

This term, the Supreme Court will turn towards desegregation and
Affirmative Action. The Freeman v. Pitts case is another recent case
dealing with whether bussing is still needed to curb past discrimination.

Another case that the court has accepted for this term will examine whether
colleges should eliminate racial preference systems in admissions or
whether quotas are still needed to further curtail the use of affirmative
action. The name of this case and the specific facts, however, were
unavailable at this time.9
Obviously affirmative action and reverse discrimination are still
heavily debated issues. This is because they affect all people of all
races and ethnicities. Conclusion
Allan Bakke was denied his fourteenth amendment right to equal
protection of the laws. In addition the University of California at Davis
violated Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. By order of the Supreme
Court Bakke was admitted and th e numerical quotas of the special
admissions program were deemed unconstitutional.Justice was served to
Bakke, but future generations who are not minorities may be plagued by the
other half of the decision: That race may still be used as a “plus ” on an


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