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Affirmative Action: Positive and Negative Results Expository Essay


The paper will look at Affirmative Action and the initial intent of its legislation. Two court cases on Affirmative Action will also be considered with their results and conclusion. After that, results of Affirmative Action, both positive and negative will be noted and a personal view of the issue brought out.


In most definitions, Affirmative Action is brought out as taking into consideration factors that leads to discrimination and looking for policies that help cub discrimination, by race, gender, religion or nationality. The term was used first by the Americans with a purpose of promoting equality among the different groups, making sure that the minor groups are included in the existing programs of a society.

Ball (2000), argued about the constitutionality of Affirmative Action and racism especially in higher education was one among the issues that carried a lot of weight in the Bakke Case.

He said that in the University of Washington, admissions were done in a racism manner and a student named Marco DeFunis was denied admission twice when the Affirmative Action was supposed to be enacted at the time. He had met the University qualifications, but him being denied the chance twice, of which he realized it was due to his race, he challenged the Affirmative Action because it was supposed to protect his constitutional rights.

DeFunis won the case in the lower courts and was admitted to the School of law, but later when the case went to the Supreme court, the question of Affirmative Action was avoided and they considered the case as one to be done away with because DeFunis was graduating from school (Tomasson, 2001).

After DeFunis’ case, there followed another one in the California court involving Allen Bakke. Bakke was an engineer at NASA and he felt he could enroll in the University of California-Davis Medical School at the age of 32.Though he had met all the qualifications; he was denied access because of his age. He challenged the University’s admission policy at the California State court and a verdict was set down which struck the school’s admission policy.

Bakke thought was not admitted to the school. The school challenged the decision of the lower court with the California Supreme Court. That decision was 6-1 that allowed Bakke to be admitted to the school and the school had to appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court. It was an important story during the 1970’s and the interesting part of the case is that it brought a split to the Supreme Court justices, where four were against Bakke and four was on his side.

Justice Powell broke the tie by setting the case on Bakke and said that discrimination by quotas was unconstitutional though he felt selection by race could still be used in higher education. The court contended that Affirmative Action could continue as long as racial discrimination was avoided. According to Ball’s findings, the impact of Bakke’s case is an improved diversification of all aspects of higher educational institutions (Stefoff, 2006).

From the study of the Bakke’s case, Ball found that the policy set flourished diversification in higher education. He reported that between 1988 -1995, African-American enrollment increased to more than 30 percent. The number of degrees earned by African-American rose to 34 for Bachelor degrees and 40 for Masters Degrees.

The case opened eyes and led to better admission practices at institutions of higher education thus trying to uphold the Affirmative Action. Bakke gave strength and support to the watered down version of Affirmative Action. The future holds that the issue may again arise. He hoped that there can be appointment of a new set of Justices in the Supreme Court during the next election and they will have different view on the issue from those who were before them.

There is still a fight in the US courts on the validity and constitutionality of the issue of Affirmative Action and a good thing that Lawrence did is to give people, his readers, a deep understanding of opinions of the courts on the matter of Affirmative Action. Bakke will continue to be a landmark court case and it will be interesting to see what will become of Affirmative Action.

After looking at what Ball had to say on Affirmative Action, I thought it was wise for us as a Company to be aware of issues of discrimination that may not be addressed by legislation. However, they are serious and can find their way to law. We all have different views on the legislation of Affirmative Action, but what matters is how that is done.

I hope there is such a time when the Supreme Court would not be avoiding the question because in the world today, Affirmative Action is necessary. As Ball hoped that the Justices in the Supreme Court could change in the next election, we hope too that the current Justices will uphold Affirmative Action as per the constitution.

We do good to remember that discriminatory practices, no matter how small, has effect on the person on the receiving end. A company’s objective cannot be achieved where discrimination thrives. It begins with you to uphold Affirmative Action.


Ball, H. (2000). The Bakke case: race, education, and affirmative action. Kansas: University Press of Kansas.

Tomasson, R. F. (2001). Affirmative action: the pros and cons of policy and practice. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Stefoff, R. (2006). The Bakke case: challenge to affirmative action. New York: Marshall Cavendish.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Affirmative Action: Positive and Negative Results'. 20 August.

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