Robbs (1990) has defined affirmative action as an attempt to provide programs that afford women and racial minorities equality of opportunities not previously available to them in the employment sector and academic milieu. In other words, in its essence, affirmative action attempts to redress historical injustices.
However, in a review of Federal Affirmative Action programs, the Supreme Court ruled, in June of 1995, that federal programs of affirmative action must stand up under "strict scrutiny," which shows that they are "narrowly tailored" to counteract previous, specific injustices. What this means is that programs must be able to empirically demonstrate that they are in place because of historical injustices that have taken place at the specific institution or place of business where they exist and to further show that the programs do, in fact, bring justice and equality to the institution/place of business.
This ruling, effectively, ended most federal affirmative action programs which, as pointed out by Sanchez (1996), contained no demonstrations that there had been injustices in the areas/occupations to which they applied and had in place no evaluative mechanisms for showing that the existence of the affirmative action programs did in fact bring equality/justice to the situation.
Dunkel (1995) pointed out that a large part of the impetus for the Court's ruling had been the concern that rather than meeting their laudable and quite worthy goals and objectives, affirmative action programs (by omitting measurable, empirical documentation of both previous injustice and correction of said injustice through the affirmative action programs) amounted in many situations to nothing more than "reverse discrimination," wherein one group was given preferential treatment over another.
An example of the kind of concern the Court had is provided by the Congressional Research Service (see: The Press Enterprise, March 13...