The Corner

Government-Sponsored Discrimination Proliferates

The Congressional Research Service has issued a study entitled “Survey of Federal Laws Containing Goals, Set-Asides, Priorities, or Other Preferences Based on Race, Gender, or Ethnicity” that details 276 federal statutes that grant preferences in employment, contracting, or awarding federal benefits on the basis of membership in a preferred class (in 1995 there were 172 such statutes). The figure doesn’t include the numerous agency regulations that also discriminate in favor of preferred classes.

In the last few years, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has examined several preferential programs of the federal government. Many of these programs violate the Supreme Court’s standards in Adarand Constructors v. Pena. Nonetheless, the appetite of Congress and federal agencies for programs and practices that count on the basis of race, sex, and ethnicity remains undiminished.

When first employed more than 40 years ago, part of the rationale for affirmative-action programs was that they were necessary to remedy specific instances of discrimination by the federal government against certain minority groups. Yet the further we get from the era of widespread discrimination against certain minority groups , the more the federal government discriminates in favor of such groups.

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