SW Legal studies in Business

Affirmative Action Program Does Not Violate Equal Protection Clause
Description Appeals court upheld continuance of an affirmative action plan by the Chicago Fire Department to help overcome past practices of intentional discrimination against racial minorities. The plan stands the test of strict scrutiny of imposing minimal costs on white firefighters and is narrowly tailored to achieve the goals of the plan.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Equal Protection; Affirmative Action
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts White firefighters contended that their right to the equal protection of the laws was infringed by affirmative-action promotions of black and Hispanic firefighters made by the Chicago Fire Department. The white firefighters conceded that until sometime during the 1980s the Department engaged in deliberate discrimination against minorities, so that blacks and Hispanics were significantly under represented in the Department, especially in the higher ranks. An affirmative action program was instituted in the late 1980s. The white firefighters contended that the continuance of the affirmative action program violated their equal protection rights by delaying their opportunities for promotion. The trial court held for the Department; the white firefighters appealed.
Decision Affirmed. For an affirmative action program to not violate equal protection, it must stand strict scrutiny and end at the point at which the effects of past discrimination have been substantially overcome. The plan must be narrowly tailored to meet its objectives. There must be a compelling case for such a program because it means some discrimination. The plan here is allowed to stand because there is still evidence of under representation of minorities in higher ranks. The Department has minimized the costs to white firefighters, such that the primary burden is that some may have experienced modest delays in promotion. This does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Citation Chicago Firefighters Local 2 v. City of Chicago, 249 F.3d 649 (7th Cir., 2001)

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