Law Studies

An Analysis of Government Programs Used to Assist Marginalized Groups

For Law Studies, assignment 4.14, by Sarah Knezel

    To analyze the use of Affirmative Action & other forms of policies that attempt to help marginalized people, you have to analyze the official amendments and definitions regarding these social services.

14th Amendment of the US Constitution
Definition of Affirmative Action via The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, quote during John F. Kennedys executive order for Affirmative Action
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and culture from which they have been historically excluded.”
“to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.

    The discrepancies between the definition of Affirmative Action and the 14th Amendment is the word privilege, owning a slave was a privilege, being treated favorably for being a white male is a privilege, being treated fairly by institutions is (even now) still a privilege; those who don’t have that privilege, by the same amendment, have every right to deny you that privilege based on the use of the word “equal.” Equality is there being no inherent privileges. Privilege relies on someone having less than you, and you being entitled to something others are not. The premise of Affirmative Action is to remove those opportunities only privileged people get, and to even the playing field in the best way they can as a government.

        The controversy surrounding Affirmative Action is the belief that Affirmative Actions demand for equality is revoking their privilege, (commonly misunderstood as a “right”) would make it nearly impossible to get than it would be before or without Affirmative Action. An example of this being University of California V. Bakke, Bakke believed that he was





  1. a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

“education is a right, not a privilege”



“It’s an American responsibility to ensure that the humanity of the historically disenfranchised is recognized and respected, that their voices are heard”

discriminated against for being a white male, claiming “reverse discrimination” (which, by the scholarly definition of racism, is incorrect.) The courts agreed that the schools quotas were too harsh while simultaneously defending Affirmative Action. The ruling showed that, despite it being law, there is times where the use of Affirmative action can be misused. This, however, did not apply to Grutter V. Bollinger, where Grutter attempted to blame Affirmative Action on her not getting accepted. It was later found that the school had their own racial quotas and didn’t go by Affirmative Actions, and that her assumption that less qualified applicants got in for their race was wrong, her baseless accusations of reverse-racism warranted the judge to side with the college and Affirmative Action.

    Another case regarding Affirmative Action is US V. Virginia, where a military university of Virginia refused to admit women, claiming that it’d lower the quality of the education. By Affirmative Action this was illegal, the court ruled. The issue wasn’t that they were a boy’s school, the issue was that they were an extremely prestigious school who claimed that women would disrupt the environment they’d made, deeming women as inferior and distracting inherently. When they did try to make a women’s version, it was low quality and deemed illegal as well. By Affirmative Action women got access to one of the best military academies at the time.

    My personal issue regarding Affirmative Action is that it’s a band-aid for societies issues, enabling the issue to stay the same but creating a flimsy cover up. The government tried to do what the government can’t ultimately, constitutionally do, and that is to force the idea of feminism or egalitarianism into the lives of its citizens. It doesn’t acknowledge the reason marginalized groups are hired less, it just forced workplaces to hire the groups by quota. A true fix for racism, sexism, and all other types of bigotry is through us, the population. It’s up to us to give our friends a dirty look when they make a bigoted comment, it’s up to us to educate that ignorant family member, it’s an American responsibility to ensure that the humanity of the historically disenfranchised is recognized and respected, that their voices are heard, Affirmative Action just gave us a band-aid for the real problem and told us that we didn’t have to do that, the real problem that is us not putting in the effort to help and keep people from believing these anti-American, anti-minority beliefs.

    Overall, the question of whether it’s constitutional or not is- in the simplest terms a really, really, loaded question. It’s a question guided by everything from political beliefs to interpretations of the constitution, and this is just mine. My interpretation is that as a government policy, it helps, but by no means does it truly help with the root issue, it helps with the economic struggle many people of color face, but gives us an excuse to ignore the whole issue. Philosophically, it’s up for interpretation, based on what you consider a privilege or a right, based on if you truly believe the constitution should be what governs right or wrong, and even more questions I can’t fathom because of how vast the interpretations of the constitution is.

SOURCES AND SUGGESTED READING: Copyright accredited to Robert Fullinwider by Sophia Kerby by Laura Shin by Brett Arends by Heather Stuart