REVERSE DISCRIMINATION. The Dangers of Hardened Categories Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper examines the decisions on reverse racial discrimination made by the Supreme Court, concentrating on Regents of the University. California v. Bakke and Fullilove v. Klutznick. It discovers a distressing tendency on the part of some members of the Court to reason rigidly within categories established by earlier decisions, most notably the notion that “race is an inherently suspect classification”; i.e., any racial discrimination can survive only with “strict scrutiny.” The paper traces the development of this rule, arguing that it rests on choices in emphasis that were unnecessary and probably unfortunate. I then examine the history of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and suggest that a better reading is that it primarily condemns racial discrimination which is used to oppress and stigmatize particular groups. Finally, I suggest the replacement of the “suspect classification” rule with a bifurcated test which distinguishes between benign and invidious discrimination.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • BAER, J. A.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • January 1982