Law: Accent on the Affirmative

The Supreme Court says yes and no on racial preferences

In the eight years since the landmark Bakke case, the U.S. Supreme Court has tacked back and forth unpredictably on the issue of affirmative action, prompting Reagan Administration lawyers and liberal civil rights activists alike to claim that the results really favored them. Last week, in what may prove to be a decisive course marker, the court struck down by a 5-4 vote a Michigan school-district plan that sought to protect minority hiring gains by laying off white teachers ahead of blacks with less seniority. It was a decision with a bit of something for everyone.

The Reagan Administration could, and...

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