Public Backs Affirmative Action, But Not Minority Preferences

Source Organization: Pew Research Center


06/02/2009 - With the Supreme Court expected to soon rule on a case involving job discrimination claims by white firefighters, and Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's decision in a lower court ruling on the case drawing scrutiny, there is renewed focus on public opinion about affirmative action programs and overall efforts to improve the position of minorities in this country. The public has generally been supportive of such efforts, but is decidedly opposed to the idea of providing preferential treatment to minorities.

In the most recent Pew Research Center values survey, released May 21, just 31% agreed that "we should make every effort to improve the position of blacks and minorities, even if it means giving them preferential treatment." More than twice as many (65%) disagreed with this statement. That balance of opinion has fluctuated only modestly through the 22-year history of the values survey.

The values survey revealed continuing racial differences in attitudes about this issue. Majorities of both African Americans (58%) and Hispanics (53%) favor preferential treatment to improve the position of blacks and other minorities; just 22% of whites agree.

Read the complete findings Public Backs Affirmative Action, But Not Minority Preferences on the Pew Research Center's Web site.

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