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United States v. Paradise


When litigation was first initiated in 1972 for United States v. Paradise (during the Nixon administration), the government acted as an equal party plaintiff in the lower courts as part of a concerted effort to eliminate the effects of gross racial discrimination in the workplace. However, in the fifteen years that intervened between the beginning of litigation and the Supreme Court's decision, a change of political administrations saw the initial action as an example of unbridled, overzealous enforcement of anti-discrimination remedies. Thus, the case arrived at the highest federal court with the U.S. government directly opposed to court-ordered enforcement of racial quotas to eliminate effects of past discrimination.

Although Supreme Court justices ruled against the United States, their decision was rendered with a slim, 5-4 majority. Moreover, because the ruling specifically addressed circumstances and history which pertained only to the recalcitrance of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, the decision was not entirely applicable in a broader context which might provide lower courts with guidance when considering the constitutionality of legislative measures intended to mitigate institutionalized racial discrimination. Indeed, and perhaps because of the specificity of purpose of their ruling, justices did not seek to define what constituted an appropriate, legal legislative redress for racial discrimination. Thus, by choosing not to confront the executive branch, the Court left an opening for later, successful litigation which sought to eliminate racial quotas and privileging of ethnic minorities as a means of securing equal opportunity based on racial criteria.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988United States v. Paradise - Significance, White Officers Intervene, "narrowly Tailored" Requirement Found Acceptable, Impact