NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 29, 1996

Polls show Americans do not support racial preferences in hiring, awarding government contracts or college admissions. But observers say the Clinton administration is intent on salvaging 30-year-old quota systems mandating or encouraging race-and gender-based quotas.

  • Of more than 160 federal laws, programs and guidelines requiring or authorizing explicit racial and other preferences, the Clinton administration has ended just one, while the Supreme Court struck down another.
  • Experts say the Justice Department's civil rights division and the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are working aggressively to perpetuate preferences; said one contractor, "The OFCCP was totally inflexible."
  • Yet 75 percent of those responding to a national poll last year said blacks and other minorities should not receive special preferences to make up for past discrimination.

In a 1995 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Adarand Construction vs. Pena against a Transportation Department policy of awarding bonuses to prime contractors who use minority subcontractors. That decision led to the scrapping of a Defense Department rule enabling two or more minority firms vying for the same contract to bypass basic competitive bidding.

In their book, "The New Color Line," Lawrence Stratton and Paul Craig Roberts -- both of the Institute for Political Economy -- argued that, "Ultimately, either quotas will go or democracy will, because legal privileges based on status are incompatible with democracy's requirement of equal standing before the law."

Stratton, a lawyer, charges that Clinton "knows the word 'quota' is political death. So he attacks quotas by name, while protecting the legal superstructure that made them possible." Source: Carl F. Horowitz, "Why Affirmative Action Lives On," Investor's Business Daily, October 29, 1996.


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