The Burger Court (1969–86)

Court Decisions

Did the Griggs decision speak to affirmative action or preferences for certain groups?

The Griggs decision did not deal with affirmative action but certain passages in Chief Justice Warren Burger’s decision have long been cited by those who disfavor affirmative action policies. Consider the following language from Griggs:

  • “In short, the Act does not command that any person be hired simply because he was formerly the subject of discrimination, or because he is a member of a minority group. Discriminatory preference for any group, minority or majority, is precisely and only what Congress has proscribed.”

  • “Congress has not commanded that the less qualified be preferred over the better qualified simply because of minority origins. Far from disparaging job qualifications as such, Congress has made such qualifications the controlling factor, so that race, religion, nationality, and sex become irrelevant.”


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