Sylvia A. Law


Since 1996, many authoritative voices challenge the legitimacy of affirmative efforts to achieve racial integration. The Supreme Court has struck down many affirmative action programs. The Court has not upheld any affirmative action program since 1989, when, by a 5-4 decision, it approved a narrowly targeted Congressional program to encourage minority ownership of broadcast licences. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, broadly prohibiting any form of affirmative action on the basis of race or gender. In the same year, in the Hopwood decision, the Fifth Circuit held that the University of Texas could not give any consideration to race in determining admissions to its law school. In November 1998, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that the affirmative action admission policies of Boston Latin High School were unconstitutional. Before I discuss affirmative action, I would like to put the issues into a new analytic framework, suggested by my title -- White Privilege.