Affirmative action on trial: sex discrimination in Johnson v. Santa Clara

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University Press of Kansas, 1997 - Law - 201 pages
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Affirmative action continues to be one of the most hotly contested issues in America. Volatile and divisive, the debates over its legitimacy have inspired a number of "reverse discrimination" suits in the federal courts. Like the landmark 1978 Bakke decision, most of these have focused on preferential treatment given racial minorities. In Johnson v. Santa Clara, however, the central issue was gender, not race discrimination, and the Supreme Court's decision in that case marked a resounding victory for women in the work force.Johnson v. Santa Clara involved two people who in 1980 competed for a dispatcher position with the transportation department of Santa Clara County, California. Paul Johnson had more experience and slightly higher test scores, but Diane Joyce was given the job based on affirmative action. An irate Johnson sued the county and won, only to have the decision reversed in appellate court. That reversal was subsequently upheld in the Supreme Court's 1987 decision, reaffirming that it was legitimate for employers to consider gender in hiring.Melvin Urofsky proves an exemplary guide through the complexities of this case, as he takes us from the workplace through the various levels of our federal court system. Balancing case details with an overview of constitutional law and judicial process, he creates a model legal history that is both appealing and enlightening for the non-scholar. Urofsky is especially good at highlighting the fundamental human drama of this case and shows how Johnson and Joyce were simply ordinary people, each with valid reasons for their actions, but were both ultimately caught tip in legal and social issues that reached well beyond their ownlives.Affirmative Action on Trial pointedly addresses the issue of sex discrimination and the broader controversy over the place of affirmative action in American society. While it's hard to determine the likely future of aff

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Contents

Diane Joyce Makes a Phone Call
1
The Debate over Affirmative Action
15
The Law and Affirmative Action
38
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

Melvin I. Urofsky is professor of history and public policy at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. The author and editor of more than three dozen books, he co-edited the multi-volume "Letters of Louis D. Brandeis" and authored "The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary", as well as "Division and Discord: The Supreme Court under Stone and Vinson, 1941-1953".

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