A Black and White Case: How Affirmative Action Survived Its Greatest Legal Challenge
In the late 1990s, two lawsuits by white applicants who had been rejected by the University of Michigan began working their way through the federal court system, aimed at the abolition of racial preferences in college admissions. The stakes were high, the constitutional questions profound, the politics and emotions explosive. It was soon evident that the matter was headed for the highest court in the land, but there all clarity ended.
To the plaintiffs and the feisty public-interest law firm that backed them, the suits were a long overdue assault on reverse discrimination. The Constitution, strictly construed, was color-blind. Discrimination under any guise was not only illegal, it was the wrong way to set history right in a nation that had been troubled and divided by the uses and misuses of race for more than two hundred years.
To the University of Michigan, and to other top institutions striving to expand opportunity and create diverse, representative student bodies, it looked as if most of what had been put in place since the 1978 Bakke v. University of California decision was about to be undone. Black and Hispanic students were in danger of being once again largely shut out of the most important avenue of advancement in America, an elite education. To some, it appeared likely that racial integration was about to suffer their worst setback since the start of the civil rights movement.
In A Black and White Case, veteran Supreme Court reporter Greg Stohr portrays the individual dramas and exposes the human passions that colored and propelled this momentous legal struggle. His fascinating account takes us deep inside America’s court system, where logic collides with emotion, and common sense must contend with the majesty and sometimes the seeming perversity of the law. He follows the trail from Michigan to Washington, DC, revealing how lawyers argued and strategized, how lower-court judges fought behind the scenes for control of the cases, and why the White House filed a brief in support of the white students, in opposition to a chorus of retired generals and admirals worried that the military academies would no longer reflect the face of America.
Finally, Stohr details the fallout from the Supreme Court's controversial 2003 ruling that both upheld affirmative action and upended some of the methods that had been used to effect it. And he shows how colleges and universities are reshaping their affirmative action policies--an evolution closely watched by lower courts, employers, civil rights lawyers, legislators, regulators, and the public.
A Black and White Case brings alive and brilliantly explains one of the most important Supreme Court decisions on the fundamental and divisive subject of race relations in America.
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Affirmative action policies are government or institutional efforts to end forms of discrimination against minorities; and challenges to, or acceptance of, those policies are critical social issues in ... Read full review
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No preview available - 2014