Is Affirmative Action still needed?

Thaddeus Mast

Affirmative Action is a policy that attempts to incorporate people who have traditionally been discriminated against into the workplace or school systems.  

A Supreme Court case will be deciding if affirmative action is still relevant later this year. 

“Affirmative Action was tailored to be used for a certain amount of time. The court would have to say that in this day and age it is not needed,” said Levi Grove, a political science teaching assistant.

While the court may decide affirmative action is no longer needed, Grove doubts this will be the outcome.

“In my viewpoint, you probably won’t see this overturned. You have to look at what affirmative action was put in action for, and it was to help with a historically discriminated group,” Grove said.

“You would have to prove that this historically discriminated group is no longer being discriminated against. You’d have to say racism is no longer a problem.”

The case stems from Abigail Fisher, a white student who was rejected from the University of Texas at Austin. Fisher says her race denied her fair consideration.

In 2003, the court upheld a similar affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School. The case was also brought about by a white student who was rejected from admission.

The court held that affirmative action may favor underrepresented minority groups, but that race was only a single factor evaluated for every individual applicant and was not a quota system. A quota system would have been unconstitutional.

The court expected that 25 years from the 2003 case, affirmative action would no longer be necessary.

The president of the American Association for Affirmative Action spoke about the issue in a press release about the case.

“This nation is becoming increasingly diverse and it is not the time to close the doors of opportunity based on race or ethnicity,” said Gregory Chambers, president of American Association for Affirmative Action. “The nation’s future depends upon all qualified individuals receiving a chance to compete in education, employment and business.”

This is all coming in an important time in the United States’ demographic, as nonwhites become a majority of the nation’s population for the first time.

Sylvester Gaskin, treasurer of the newly formed Iowa State NAACP chapter, sees affirmative action as necessary to ensuring equality. “I think that institutional policies that are geared to making sure everyone has access to equal opportunities are necessary,” Gaskin said.

The Supreme Court will also be looking at the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This act outlawed discriminatory voting practices focused on African Americans. Both of these cases are essentially deciding if racism is still applicable in today’s society.