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On this date in 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled favor of reverse discrimination suits.
The establishment of racial quotas in the name of affirmative action brought charges of so-called reverse discrimination in the late 1970s. Although the U.S. Supreme Court accepted such an argument in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), it let existing programs stand. It approved using quotas in 1979 in a case involving voluntary affirmative-action programs in unions and private businesses.
In the 1980s, the federal government's role in affirmative action was considerably diluted. In three cases in 1989, the Supreme Court undercut court-approved affirmative action plans by giving greater standing to claims of reverse discrimination, voiding the use of minority set-asides where past discrimination against minority contractors was unproven, and restricting the use of statistics to prove discrimination, since statistics did not prove intent.
The Supreme Court at that time was moving in a generally conservative direction after President Ronald Reagan promoted William H. Rehnquist from associate to chief justice in 1986. With three other Reagan appointees usually voting with him, Rehnquist overturned some important precedents.
Under Rehnquist, the Court clarified that it would take a dim view of most affirmative action policies.