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Affirmative action, which was introduced at the national level by President John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10925, called for the creation of the Committee of Equal Employment Opportunity in order to promote access and equity for minorities in programs utilizing federal funds. More specifically, this order directed public officials to “take affirmative action” to eliminate racial discrimination in employment practices.

Educational institutions have relied on affirmative action to provide access to and increase the number of minorities in colleges and universities. Since its implementation, the constitutionality of affirmative action has been challenged vigorously in higher education. Insofar as DeFunis v. Odegaard (1974) was the first case challenging the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education to reach the Supreme Court, this entry reviews its background and ...

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