Last Updated on July 9, 2016 by Andre Loftis

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For nearly 75 years the United States of America has grappled with the issue of affirmative action. Although the nation’s first formal engagement with the issue occurred in 1941, the term “affirmative action” was not actually introduced until twenty years later. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy saw it as a way to amend the discrimination that persisted despite the mandates of civil rights legislation and the basic rights of citizenship guaranteed in the nation’s constitution. This timeline reflects ten of the most significant affirmative action cases and orders in the last 75 years.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tta_tabs style=”modern” active_section=”1″][vc_tta_section title=”1941″ tab_id=”1468016762689-b2b27944-e071″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Executive Order 8802

President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlawed discrimination based on race, color, creed, and national origin in the federal government and defense industries as the nation prepares for World War II.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65181″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”1961″ tab_id=”1468017923993-b9d02fd9-06d6″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Executive Order 10925

President John F. Kennedy required that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65179″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”1965″ tab_id=”1468018045969-995bd201-dc96″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Executive Order 11246

President Lyndon B. Johnson prohibited employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin by organizations receiving federal contracts and subcontracts. Provisions that ban employment discrimination based on gender were added shortly after.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”65182″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”65180″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”1969″ tab_id=”1468018108802-07655dd9-7cb7″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

The Philadelphia Order

The revised Philadelphia Plan was an initiative from President Richard M. Nixon under the powers established by Johnson’s Executive Order 11246. Assistant Labor Secretary Arthur Fletcher acted to “require that bidders on any federal or federally assisted construction contracts for projects in a five-county area around Philadelphia … submit an acceptable affirmative action program which includes specific goals for the utilization of minority manpower in six skilled crafts.” The plan was extended to other cities, and the Supreme Court decided to not hear an appeals case to overturn the plan.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65178″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”1978″ tab_id=”1468018268543-b0c1f94e-5675″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

One of the true landmark cases in Supreme Court history, the Bakke decision found a way to uphold some parts of affirmative action while rejecting other parts. Allan Bakke, a White man, had twice applied for admission to the University of California Medical School at Davis. He was rejected both times, despite having the required academic achievements, while minority applicants were given preference. The court decided the University of California had to admit Bakke, arguing the rigid use of racial quotas at the school violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. But the court also found that race as part of admissions decisions was constitutional, as long as it was one of several admission criteria.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65184″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”1996″ tab_id=”1468018481239-10d3c45f-51ae”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Proposition 209

Californian’s vote to amend the state’s constitution to bar public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, or ethnicity. Proposition 209 has survived various legal challenges, and Michigan enacted a similar law in 2006.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”65176″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][vc_single_image image=”65173″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”65175″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][vc_single_image image=”65174″ img_size=”medium” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”2003″ tab_id=”1468018733482-a1864329-4498″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Grutter v. Bollinger

In a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court opinion delivered by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the court said that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment didn’t prohibit the University of Michigan’s Law School from using race in admissions decisions. The court said that the law school’s detailed review of each applicant ensured that all factors were considered along with race and that the program didn’t harm non-minority applicants.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65172″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”2007″ tab_id=”1468018878121-f720081b-b3d7″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson

The U. S. Supreme Court decided by a 5-4 margin that public school systems can’t seek to maintain integration through measures that take into account a student’s race, on constitutional grounds. The opinion from Chief Justice John Roberts invalidated moves in Seattle and Louisville that ensured racial diversity. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” Roberts said. Justice Anthony Kennedy didn’t join with Roberts and three other justices in parts of the opinion. “Diversity, depending on its meaning and definition, is a compelling educational goal a school district may pursue,” Kennedy said.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65171″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”2009″ tab_id=”1468018966554-67acdd4f-8324″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Ricci v. DeStefano

White and Hispanic candidates for promotion in the New Haven, Connecticut, fire department sued after their examinations were discarded because not enough candidates from other racial groups passed their tests. The court ruled 5-4 in favor of the firefighters, and Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. The court decided that plaintiffs had their rights violated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65183″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”2016″ tab_id=”1468019039801-bc916bb4-4896″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Fisher v. University of Texas

The U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold an Affirmative Action ruling in the Fisher v. UT Austin case. The court reaffirmed that the value of creating a diverse student body allows university officials to consider race in making admission decisions. The ruling upheld a University of Texas plan that has been the subject of years of legal battles.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”65177″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” css_animation=”bottom-to-top”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_tabs][vc_separator][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]Source: National Constitution Center)
Written by Stephanie Williams
Designed by Christopher Allen[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]