In The Past and Future of Affirmative Action, Ronald Turner strives to describe and explain the law without joining in the debate over the moral and political justifications of affirmative action. His goal is to explain in detail how the law developed, a step which Turner says “is often overlooked in the rush to judge affirmative action as moral or immoral, right or wrong, constitutional or unconstitutional.” The book is designed to serve as a resource guide for those involved in, and responsible for, affirmative action in the workplace. To this end, Turner, a research associate at the Wharton School of Business and an associate with the legal firm of Schiff Hardin and Waite in Chicago, offers a concise and detailed examination of our nation’s affirmative action record in employment and public contracting.
This is not to say that Tumer’s views are unapparent. As his title suggests, he believes that affirmative action is an evolutionary concept best understood against a backdrop of race-consciousness that has informed our nation’s entire legal history. This history is replete with examples of race-conscious constitutional provisions, judicial decisions, and social policies that adversely impacted African Americans. Yet, as Turner points out, we also have a tradition of developing race-conscious legal remedies to redress that discrimination. Therefore, while affirmative action is a relatively recent development, the link between race-conscious discrimination and race-conscious remedies has firm roots in our legal culture.
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