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Affirmative ActionAffirmative Action as defined by the Meriam Websters Dictionary is an activeeffort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of membersof minority groups or womenIn 1961 John FKennedy issued an executive order calling for AffirmativeAction as a means to promote equal opportunity for racial minorities inhiring by federal contractors This was the first official use of the termby the Federal Government Eight years later Nixon as President beefed upthe Office of Federal Compliance Programs which along with the Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission has become one of the governments two main enforcersof affirmative action policyGroliers Electronic Encyclopedia 1993Such efforts have vastly expanded opportunities for Afro-Americans Howeverthey have also touched off complaints from many whites that Afro-Americansare benefiting from reverse discrimination Under the equal opportunity actof 1972 most federal contractors subcontractors all state and governmentinstitutions including universities must initiate plans to increase theproportions of their female and minority employees until they are equal tothe proportions existing in the available labor marketGroliers ElectricEncyclopedia 1993Affirmative action plans that establish racial quotas were declaredunconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the case of University of CaliforniaVS Bakke in 1978 This case arose when the medical school of the Universityof California at Davis twice rejected Allen Bakkes application while admittingmembers of racial minorities who had lower test scores Bakke charged thatthe medical schools policy of setting aside 16 of the 100 positions forracial minorities was a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14thamendment In a complex 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ordered that Bakkebe admitted The court ruled that even though universities may consider raceand ethnic origins as a factor in evaluating candidates for admission theymay not establish fixed racial quotasTime Magazine May 27 1991 pp22The decision was however upheld in the case of Private Business and Unionsin United Steelworkers of America vs Webber in 1979 This case arose whenBrian F Webber sued Kaiser Aluminum and the United Steelworkers of Americafor setting aside half of the positions in a training
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