Affirmative Action

Judge Douglas Ginsburg investigates the history of affirmative action and the United States constitution.

AIRED: 1/24/2020 | 00:01:59
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Affirmative action, is so difficult because it calls into question two different visions of equality.

And the Constitution doesn''t provide us a clear answer.

Say you have a job to fill, or someone has a job to fill.


Is it appropriate for them to take into account the skin color of the applicants?

It''s a complicated question.

I think that people should hire the best person qualified.

What is the right balance between rectifying the sins of the past and focusing more specifically on individuals in the present?

Affirmative Action provides opportunities to people who otherwise wouldn''t be able to afford those opportunities.

It shouldn''t matter what sex you are, what color of your skin; it shouldn''t matter anything, can you do the job.

Cause you know, purists would say we shouldn''t have any kind of race discrimination and a non-purist would say, yeah, except after 200 years of slavery and then 100 years of Jim Crow, we have a national stain on our honor.

Would it offend me if someone takes that into account?


People don''t know how to prevent their personal biases from coloring their decision.

It''s not like affirmative action is anything new and it''s only been for African Americans.

Rich white guys have been affirmatively acted upon for years.

Some groups have a harder time, even when they''re qualified.

Will affirmative action be here for the ages?

Probably not.

When Justice Sandra Day O''Connor cast the deciding vote upholding a state university''s affirmative action program, she wrote '[w]e expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.

That was in 2003.

In not very many more years we''ll know whether she was correct.