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Legislation

2011

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

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Affirmative Action As Government Speech, William M. Carter Jr. Jan 2011

Affirmative Action As Government Speech, William M. Carter Jr.

Articles

This article seeks to transform how we think about “affirmative action.” The Supreme Court’s affirmative action jurisprudence appears to be a seamless whole, but closer examination reveals important differences. Government race-consciousness sometimes grants a benefit to members of a minority group for remedial or diversifying purposes. But the government may also undertake remedial or diversifying race-conscious action without it resulting in unequal treatment or disadvantage to non-minorities. Under the Court’s current equal protection doctrine, both categories of cases are treated as presumptively unconstitutional. Race-consciousness itself has become a constitutional harm, regardless of tangible effects.

Prior scholarship has suggested ...