NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Challenge To Whites-Only Affirmative Action

October 14, 1999

As proof that if you wait long enough you'll see it all, Alabama has an affirmative action scholarship program exclusively for whites who enroll in one of the state's two historically black colleges. And now, a black student has challenged it in court, claiming it violates his 14th amendment rights guaranteeing equal protection under the law.

  • The affirmative action plan affects Alabama State and Alabama A&M.
  • It was created in 1995 to encourage whites to add some diversity to the traditionally all-black student bodies.
  • White enrollment has increased from seven to 10 percent at Alabama State since the 1995 decision by U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy.

Now, the same judge has allowed Jesse J. Tompkins, a part time student at Alabama State, to challenge the constitutionality of the scholarships, claiming he was denied a scholarship in 1996 because of the affirmative action program for whites. He is being defended by the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington-based legal group that takes racial preference cases around the country.

Tompkins argues that racial opportunity has become so well-equalized in American that we no longer need take race into account. Observers believe that if Tompkins wins his case, it could help unravel affirmative action programs around the country, regardless of which race is involved.

Source: Clarence Page (Chicago Tribune), "Affirmative Reaction," Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1999.


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