Affirmative Action No. 102
Affirmative action was designed to provide redress for inequities and historic wrongs. It has provided equal opportunity in employment and education for groups that traditionally have been denied avenues to jobs and education -- namely, racial minorities and women.
There is a popular misconception that affirmative action policies encourage the hiring or acceptance of unqualified candidates, either in the workplace or in educational institutions. Affirmative action increases the numbers of minorities and women considered for positions where they were previously under-represented. The goal is to reflect the diversity of our society. Where affirmative action has been in place there has been measurable improvement in bringing the workforce, educational institutions and the military into demographic balance.
President Clinton demonstrated that the quality of a workforce or institution need not be sacrificed for the sake of diversity; on the contrary, affirmative action leads employers and educators to draw on a wider pool of skills and knowledge. For example, 60% of the federal judges whom President Clinton appointed are minorities and women. Sixty-five percent of his judicial appointees received the highest ranking from the American Bar Association, the best score of any recent President. We are dismayed that President Bush failed to follow this example, especially since he is in the midst of nominating about 10% of the federal judiciary.
Affirmative action is under attack at both the state and federal levels. As a result of legislative and judicial actions to hobble or ban affirmative action, minority enrollment in elite institutions of higher education has declined drastically.
ADA welcomes the Supreme Court's holding in Grutter v. Bollinger that diversity in education serves a compelling state interest and that race is therefore a constitutional factor in admissions decisions. It is unclear how Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, which disallowed use of race in assigning public elementary and secondary school children, might undermine Grutter.
(1) Calls upon President Bush to reaffirm, strengthen and expand efforts to realize the goals of affirmative action;
(2) Calls upon the President to implement a policy of outreach to underrepresented constituencies in the awarding of government contracts, grants and opportunities;
(3) Urges the President to insure that the Government of the United States is a model employer in its own agencies by:
(a) Issuing an Executive Order giving the Administrative Judges of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the authority of Administrative Law Judges in other agencies of the federal government, so that they may rule on complaints of discrimination by federal employers without being overridden by the agency which is charged;
(b) Requiring all federal agencies to document outreach in job recruitment, promotions, housing and educational programs;
(4) Urges Congress to support programs to provide experiences of cultural diversity for Americans of all backgrounds;
(5) Calls upon the President and Congress to increase funding for EEOC to assure adequate implementation of laws against discrimination;
(6) Urges the Democratic Party to retain its support for and commitment to affirmative action, and to reject efforts to ban such programs at the federal level;
(7) Urges Members of Congress from both parties to recognize the importance of affirmative action in our nation's efforts towards equality of opportunity, and to vote in favor of continuance of the policy; and
(8) Urges concrete actions that will give credibility to assertions on the value of diversity and the need for communities, employers, educational institutions, and governments at all levels to reach out to, mentor, and include all ethnic groups and genders.
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Social and Domestic Policy Commission