Affirmative action programs in the public and private sector, that is, positive efforts to recruit members of underrepresented groups in American society to positions long closed to them, have been surrounded by great controversy for more than a decade. Advocates of such programs -have asserted that they are ameliorative and benign in nature while opponents label such efforts "reverse discrimination" and ascribe to them a quota mentality which is viewed as objectionable and unconstitutional. The problems raised are clearly most dramatic when affirmative action is taken by the government itself because, from the perspective of the program's advocates, it is in the governmental sector that the consequences of institutionalized discrimination are most graphic. Concurrently, however, the opponents of such programs are bound to perceive governmental involvement as the heart of the constitutional questions that are being raised.

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