Law: How Far Can Congress Go?

High court considers another affirmative-action program

For the third time in two years, the Supreme Court is deciding a major reverse discrimination claim. The issue this time is not the permissibility of racial quotas for professional school admissions (as in the Bakke decision of 1978) or of company job-training programs (as in last summer's Weber ruling), but of a congressional award of a share of federally financed local public works contracts to minority-controlled businesses. The case, on which the nine high court Justices heard oral arguments last week, should help to further define the still murky limits to which affirmative-action programs may...

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