In these activities students will construct a definition of equality; trace the evolution ofequality over the course of American history; and consider how the constitutional valueof equality is applied in practical terms.
Full lesson plan for Defining Equality
Supreme Court decision holding that federal programs that classify people by race, even for an ostensibly benign purpose such as expanding opportunities for minorities, should be presumed to be unconstitutional.
No decision of the Supreme Court’s term was more eagerly anticipated than Fisher v. University of Texas, Austin, on the constitutionality of affirmative action by colleges and universities. The case was argued on Oct. 10 but not decided until June 24. At first reading, the decision seemed to do very little. Supporters of affirmative action breathed a huge sigh of relief that the court did not change the law. At most the court clarified it and remanded the case for further consideration. But will the decision have any effect on affirmative action?
Affirmative action is one of the most effective tools for redressing the injustices caused by our nation’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, and for leveling what has long been an uneven playing field. A centuries-long legacy of racism and sexism has not been eradicated despite the gains made during the civil rights era.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.
City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that the minority set-aside program of Richmond, Virginia, which gave preference to minority business enterprises (MBE) in the awarding of municipal contracts, was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found that the city failed to identify both the need for remedial action and that other non-discriminatory remedies would be insufficient.
In the 1960s, Americans who knew only the potential of "equal protection of the laws" expected the President, the Congress, and the courts to fulfill the promise of the 14th Amendment. In response, all three branches of the federal government – as well as the public at large – debated a fundamental constitutional question: Does the Constitution's prohibition of denying equal protection always ban the use of racial, ethnic, or gender criteria in an attempt to bring social justice and social benefits?
A set of procedures designed to eliminate unlawful discrimination among applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future. Applicants may be seeking admission to an educational program or looking for professional employment. In modern American jurisprudence, it typically imposes remedies against discrimination on the basis of, at the very least, race, creed, color, and national origin.
Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court in which the Court held that the US Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for black people, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and so the rights and privileges that the Constitution confers upon American citizens could not apply to them.
The Executive Order prohibits federal contractors and federally‐assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. The Executive Order also requires Government contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment. Additionally, Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from, under certain circumstances, taking adverse employment actions against applicants and employees for asking about, discussing, or sharing information about their pay or the pay of their co‐workers.
Fisher v. University of Texas, 570 U.S. 297 (2013), also known as Fisher I (to distinguish it from the 2016 case), is a United States Supreme Court case concerning the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin. The Supreme Court voided the lower appellate court's ruling in favor of the University and remanded the case, holding that the lower court had not applied the standard of strict scrutiny, articulated in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), to its admissions program. The Court's ruling in Fisher took Grutter and Bakke as given and did not directly revisit the constitutionality of using race as a factor in college admissions.
Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 (1980), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that the U.S. Congress could constitutionally use its spending power to remedy past discrimination.
Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003), was a United States Supreme Court case regarding the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action admissions policy.
Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), was a landmark case of the Supreme Court of the United States concerning affirmative action in student admissions.
Hollingsworth v. Perry were a series of United States federal court cases that legalized same-sex marriage in the State of California. The case began in 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which found that banning same-sex marriage violates equal protection under the law.
Johnson v. Transportation Agency, 480 U.S. 616 (1987), is the only United States Supreme Court case to address a sex-based affirmative action plan in the employment context. The case was brought by Paul Johnson, a male Santa Clara Transportation Agency employee, who was passed over for a promotion in favor of Diane Joyce, a female employee who Johnson argued was less qualified. The Court found that the plan did not violate the protection against discrimination on the basis of sex in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In partnership with the Supreme Court Historical Society, Street Law publishes LandmarkCases.org, a website devoted to interactive teaching materials about 17 landmark Supreme Court cases.
Respondent Stotts, a black member of petitioner Memphis, Tenn., Fire Department, filed a class action in Federal District Court charging that the Department and certain city officials were engaged in a pattern or practice of making hiring and promotion decisions on the basis of race in violation of, inter alia, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
New York Times articles related to affirmative action
This book takes an in-depth look at the Constitution, annotated with detailed explanations of its terms and contents. Included are texts of primary source materials, sidebar material on each article and amendment, profiles of Supreme Court cases, and timelines.
This book uses historical case studies to explore the rights in the Constitution. Supreme Court cases are used to demonstrate how a right received its modern interpretation, how the right applies today, and how courts and other interpreters seek to balance this right with important societal concerns such as public safety.
Plessy v. Ferguson , 163 U.S. 537 (1896), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public facilities as long as the segregated facilities were equal in quality – a doctrine that came to be known as "separate but equal".
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978), was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. It upheld affirmative action, allowing race to be one of several factors in college admission policy.
On June 23, 1972, the President signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 , 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., into law. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.
The United States maintains that the race-conscious relief ordered in this case violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.16 It is now well established that government bodies, including courts, may constitutionally employ racial classifications essential to remedy unlawful treatment of racial or ethnic groups subject to discrimination.
For federal contractors and subcontractors, affirmative action must be taken by covered employers to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans. Affirmative actions include training programs, outreach efforts, and other positive steps. These procedures should be incorporated into the company's written personnel policies. Employers with written affirmative action programs must implement them, keep them on file and update them annually.
The Supreme Court case which held that the Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) provision excluding same-sex married individuals from the definition of spouse violated the protections afforded by Fifth Amendment and was thus unconstitutional.
United Steelworkers of America v. Weber, 443 U.S. 193 (1979), was a case regarding affirmative action in which the United States Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not bar employers from favoring women and minorities. The Court's decision reversed lower courts' rulings in favor of Brian Weber whose lawsuit beginning in 1974 challenged his employer's hiring practices.
This act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson. It outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.
Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, 476 U.S. 267 (1986), was a case before the United States Supreme Court. It is the seminal case for the "strong-basis-in-evidence standard" for affirmative action programs.
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, New Hampshire attorney William Chapman, and Suffolk Law Professor Patrick Shin contrast the societal norms that existed in 1896 when the "separate but equal" doctrine was adopted with those of 1954 when segregation in public education was outlawed.
Suffolk Law Professor Patrick Shin explores the tension between diversity and equality as the two values relate to affirmative action in higher education.
Suffolk Law Professor Patrick Shin examines the historical basis for the idea of a "colorblind" Constitution, found in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson dissent authored by Justice John Marshall Harlan.
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