For many years, no institution of American government has been as close a friend to civil rights as the United States Supreme Court. Make no mistake: I do not mean for a moment to denigrate the quite considerable contributions to the enhancement of civil rights by presidents, the Congress, other federal courts, and the legislatures and judiciaries of many states. It is now 1989, however, and we must recognize that the Court's approach to civil rights cases has changed markedly. The most recent Supreme Court opinions vividly illustrate this changed judicial attitude. In Richmond v. Croson, the Court took a broad swipe at affirmative action, making it extraordinarily hard for any state or city to fashion a race-conscious remedial program that will survive its constitutional scrutiny. Indeed, the Court went so far as to express its doubts that the effects of past racial discrimination are still felt in the city of Richmond, and in society as a whole.


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