A Deontological & Utilitarian Consideration
The Supreme Court has not provided an opinion on affirmative action in higher education since its 1978 ruling in Regents of the Univ. of California v. Bakke. In that decision, the Supreme Court’s Justice Powell argued that a university “could take race into account as one among a number of factors in student admissions for the purposed of achieving student body diversity”. Since the time of this ruling, affirmative action programs with respect to student admissions, financial aid, and even faculty employment have been based primarily on achieving diversity.
Since the Bakke decision, affirmative action has been an increasingly contentious issue between those in favor of its use and those opposed to it. Those in favor of affirmative action typically use as their justification the fact that such programs remedy the present effects of past discrimination. They also argue that racial diversity is a positive for universities because it “contributes to the robust exchange of ideas”. Despite such justifications, many individuals remain staunchly opposed to affirmative action. They stand opposed to it because they believe that affirmative action favors less qualified individuals for admissions based on race or gender, qualities unconnected to educational benefit. A University of Georgia admissions policy that featured affirmative action was recently found unconstitutional because, “Not only did the court find no evidence of significant educational benefits from diversity, but it concluded that the purported benefits are based on a stereotype – that race and gender are a proxy for viewpoint or experience”.
Many states have banned affirmative action programs or passed proposals like California’s Proposition 209. Such proposals view admissions as a process that must only focus on merit not race or gender. One of the biggest court cases that veered away from the focu...