I am watching the confirmation hearings of Sotomayor; currently, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions is attacking her 1970s liberalism via race, gender, and reproductive rights. The topic of affirmative action, once thought almost dead, has been recently resurrected by way of Obama’sselection of a candidate who might look to find sympathy among the American people. I suspect the key issue today is that of race and gender, the two factors that shaped the 1970s with two instrumental court cases: Bakke v. California…. The court upheld the use of race as a factor in hiring and admission. The other factor regarding gender/reproduction was Roe v. Wade. Here the court utilized the 9th Amendment to draw a conclusion. Conservative blacks and whites fear Sotomayor due to her 1970s approach.
As public policy, affirmative action can be dated to President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s June 4, 1965 address to the graduating class of Howard University. LBJ intended this speech as his own Civil Rights Proclamation. He chose his words carefully, with an eye towards posterity: You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.’ You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe you have been completely fair…. This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity – not just legal equity but human ability – not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.”