Adarand, Grutter, and Gratz: Does Affirmative Action in Federal Employment Matter?

Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Lorenda, A. N., & David, H. R. (June 01, 2004). Adarand, Grutter, and Gratz : Does Affirmative Action in Federal Employment Matter?. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 24, 2, 150-174.



Does affirmative action in federal human resources management (HRM) matter? Responding to the Supreme Court’s decision in Adarand v. Pena (1995), the Clinton administration instructed federal agencies not to use racial, ethnic, or gender-based affirmative action classifications in their HRM programs without explicit approval from the Department of Justice. The Court’s decisions in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) suggest that it may now be constitutionally feasible to strengthen affirmative action in federal HRM. However, analysis of the impact of the Clinton administration’s policy change leads to the conclusion that constitutional flexibility to establish racial, ethnic, and gender goals and timetables to promote federal workforce diversity simply may not make much difference, except possibly for the smallest minority groups.