There is a widely held belief that recent Supreme Court decisions in the United States have seriously damaged — or at least set back — the prospects and scope for affirmative action. Certainly, the record for 1989 would seem strongly to support this assumption. Five affirmative action cases were decided in that term and all five decisions were, in different respects, antagonistic to affirmative action. But to say that either individually, or collectively, they represented a serious set — back to affirmative action is unduly pessimistic. Affirmative action in employment in the US is not the fragile desert flower it is in Britain. It is very widely practised (mandatory for federal contractors), aggressively pursued (to the level of preferential treatment) and has gathered a momentum which even the presently constituted Supreme Court would find it difficult to hinder.
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