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IU / Political Science / POLS 103 / What is a political action committee?

What is a political action committee?

What is a political action committee?


School: Indiana University
Department: Political Science
Course: Intro to American Politics
Professor: Barbour d
Term: Fall 2015
Tags: American Government, Government, civil rights, political science, Politics, political parties, and Interest Groups
Cost: 50
Name: Exam 2 Study Guide
Description: Important terms and points found in Chapters 8, 10, and 5
Uploaded: 02/27/2017
19 Pages 103 Views 13 Unlocks

Exam 2 Study Guide (Chapters 8, 10, 5)

What is a political action committee?

Yellow=Vocab term

Pink=Important term

Bold=Important Point

Chapter 8

American Political Parties

- Party Organization

o National committee: an American political party’s principal  organization, comprising party representatives from each state  (usually one man & one woman per state)

o Constituency groups (Democracy) & Teams (Republican)  Work to attract the support of demographic groups who are likely to identify with said party

o Other groups

 Political action committees (PACs): an interest group or  division of an interest group that can raise money to  

What is accountability?

contribute to campaigns or to spend on ads in support of  

candidates. Limits on contributions are kept strict

 527 Organization: a tax-exempt group formed primarily to  influence elections through voter mobilization efforts &  

issue ads that do not directly endorse or oppose  

candidates. Not subject to limits and spending caps

 Many organizations work through a loophole to  

obtain large, anonymous donations from corporate  

and individual contributors

o Limits of Party Organizations

 No hierarchy = often comes off as unorganized

 State and local level parties are independent to make their  own decisions on candidates & issue positions (national  

What is a confederation?

Don't forget about the age old question of What is sexism?

committees cannot force compliance)

- Party in Government

o Party in government = public face of the party  


o Caucuses & Conferences

 Caucus: the organization of Democrats within the House  & Senate that meets to discuss & debate the party’s  

position on certain issues to reach a consensus & assign  

leadership positions

 Conference: the organization of Republicans within the  House & Senate that meets to discuss & debate the party’s position on certain issues to reach a consensus & assign  If you want to learn more check out How probability quantifies randomness?

leadership positions

o Polarization & Ideological Diversity

 Over the past 60 years, the magnitude of ideological  

differences between the parties in Congress has increased - Party in the Electorate

o Party ID

 Party identification: a citizen’s loyalty to a specific political  party

 Previous studies claimed one identifies through parents,  friends, and political events; but recent studies show that  people choose their party over the party’s brand name,  positions they take, and how the candidate behaves  in office

o Independents

 Some say rising number of Independents =  

indication that Americans are becoming more  

politically savvy (not just blindly voting for their  

consistent choice of party)

 Independents usually have some weak attachment to one  of the major parties (“closet partisans”: those who identify  with a party but don’t want to admit it)

- Party Coalitions

o Party coalitions: groups of citizens that identify with a political  party (usually demographically-speaking)

Role of Political Parties in American Politics

- Organizing Elections

o Recruiting & Nominating Candidates

 Endorsements by party leaders & elected officials  play key role in determining who becomes the  

nominee We also discuss several other topics like What is the advantage of using the midpoint method vs. the conventional method?

∙ Ex: In all recent presidential nominations (except  

2016), winning candidate had gathered the most  

endorsements from party leaders & elected officials

 Primary election: a ballot vote in which citizens select a  party’s nominee for the general election We also discuss several other topics like Who is aegir?

 Caucus (electoral): local meeting in which party members  select a party’s nominee for the general election

 Independent candidates need to file petitions with  more than 150,000 signatures to get on the ballot  

without a major-party label

 Nominating convention: a meeting held by each party  

every four years at which states’ delegates select the  

party’s presidential & vice-presidential nominees &  

approve the platform

o Party Platforms

 Party Platform: a set of objectives outlining the party’s  

issue positions and priorities (generally reflect the brand  

name differences between the parties)

 Purposes

∙ Describe differences between parties

∙ Capture diagnosis of problems facing country We also discuss several other topics like What are the five core customer and marketplace concepts?

∙ Give plans for solving these problems

- Cooperation in Government

o Coordination

 Unless supporters in Congress can amass a two

thirds majority to override a veto, they need  

presidential support; in return presidents need  

congressional support to enact legislation they  


o Accountability

 Give citizens identifiable groups to reward or punish for  government action or inaction (by using the ballot box  for rewards/punishment)

 Unified government: one party holds a majority of seats in  the House & Senate and president seat (more likely to pass legislation)

 Divided government: when the House & Senate and  Don't forget about the age old question of What is generational conflict?

presidency are not held by the same party (president’s  

party is considered the party in power)

o Unique Issues Facing Minor Parties

 Research shows that citizens vote for minor-party  

candidates because they find their positions more  

attractive & don’t believe either major party can  

govern effectively

 Basic structure of American politics works against minor  parties

∙ Duverger’s Law: principle that in a democracy with  

single-member districts & plurality voting only two  

parties’ candidates will have a realistic chance of  

winning political office

∙ Single-member district: an electoral system in which  

every elected official represents a geographically  

defined area and each area elects one representative

∙ Plurality voting: a voting system in which the  

candidate who receives the most votes within a  

geographical area wins the election, regardless of  

whether the candidates has received the majority of  

the votes

Chapter 10

Interest Groups

- Interest groups: organizations who share common political interests &  seek to influence government policy by electioneering and lobbying - Lobbying: efforts to influence public policy through contact with public  officials on behalf of an interest group

- The idea of pluralism argues that Americans participate in politics  through their membership in interest groups

- Interest group state: a government in which most policy decisions are  determined by influence of interest groups

- Business of Lobbying

o Heavily regulated (must file annual reports based on  funds, time spent lobbying, and detailing expenditures) o Involves billions of dollars a year

o Lobbying is so populated and has so many interest  groups as a result of the large size and widespread  influence of the federal government

- Some companies lobby through trade associations

o Trade associations: an interest group composed of companies in  the same business of industry that lobbies for policies that  benefit members of the group

- Structures of Interest Groups

o Centralized Groups: interest groups that have a headquarters,  usually in Washington D.C., as well as members & field offices  throughout the country. Leaders who work at such headquarters  usually are the decision-makers

 Can deploy resources efficiently

 Difficult to find out what members want

o Confederations: interest groups made up of several independent, local organizations that provide much of their funding and hold  most of the power

 Maintain chapters at the state and local level

 Act independently from national headquarters, but national headquarters needs state & local levels to provide funding  for staff & contributions

 Often have conflicts over what to lobby for and which  

candidates to support

o Staff

 Revolving door: the movement of individuals from  

government positions to jobs with interest groups or  

lobbying firms & vice versa

o Membership

 Mass associations: interest groups that have a large  

number of dues-paying individuals as members

∙ Ex: The AARP has more than 40 million members. You

must be at least 50 years old & pay about $16 a

year. You get discounts on insurance, car rentals, and

hotels, but members don’t have any control over  

which legislative causes the group chooses or the  

leadership of the group

 Peak associations: interest groups whose members are  businesses or other organizations rather than individuals

o Resources

 People

∙ MoveOn.org helps members get involved in the  

lobbying process—it automatically imports your  

messages into correctly addressed e-mails to your  

selected newspapers

 Money

 Expertise

∙ Groups often have members who were involved

in Congress or can poll their membership to  

see what they would like government to do

Getting Organized

- Collective action

o Collective action problem: a situation in which members of a  group would benefit by working together to produce a desired  outcome, but each individual may refuse to cooperate while  reaping the benefits from those who are doing the work

o Group formation is not automatic; many groups remain  unorganized, despite sharing a common interest

o Free riding: relying on others to contribute to a collective effort  while failing to participate on one’s own behalf, yet still  

benefitting from the group’s success

o Three categories of solutions to promote cooperation amongst  group members

 Benefits from participation

∙ Solidary benefits: satisfaction derived from the  

experience of working with like-minded people

∙ Purposive benefits: satisfaction derived from the  

experience of working toward a desired policy goal,  

even if it is not achieved

 Coercion

∙ Coercion: a method of eliminating nonparticipation or

free riding by requiring participation

o Ex: labor unions (provide public goods to  

workers by negotiating on behalf of worker

members over pay and work requirements

 Selective incentives

∙ Selective incentives: benefits that can motivate  

participation in a group effort because they are  

available only to those who participate

∙ These incentives are not public goods and can only  

be received through joining  

Interest Group Strategies

- Two types of tactics for how to lobby

o Inside strategies: the tactics employed within Washington DC by  interest groups seeking to achieve their policy goals

o Outside strategies: tactics employed outside Washington DC by  interest groups seeking to achieve their policy goals

- Inside strategies

o Direct lobbying: attempts by interest group staff to influence  policy by speaking with elected officials or bureaucrats

 These efforts do not involve a trade in which the group  expects legislative action in return for its help. Rather, the  group’s efforts are a way of helping legislators to enact  

policies that they prefer and that the group prefers, as well o Drafting Legislation & Regulations

o Research

o Hearing

o Litigation

 Can file an “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) which is  documentation that gives judges a group’s rationale for  

how a case should be decided

o Working together

- Outside strategies

o Grassroots lobbying

 Grassroots lobbying: a strategy that relies on participation  by group members, such as a protest or letter-writing  


 Mass protests are another form; a goal is to draw the  

media’s attention, as well as Congress, in hopes that  

possible funding from companies or attracting more  

members will result

 For this strategy to work, letters have to come from a  

Congress member’s own constituents & depends on the  

perceptions of how much a group has done to motivate  


∙ Astroturf lobbying: a lobbying method initiated by an  

interest group that is designed to look like the  

spontaneous, independent participation of many  

individuals (something politicians are more likely to  


o Mobilizing public opinion

o Electioneering

 Political action committee (PAC): an interest group that can raise money to contribute to campaigns or to spend on ads in support of candidates. The amount a PAC can receive  

from donors and the amount they can spend on campaigns are strictly limited

 527 Organization: a tax-exempt group formed primarily to  influence elections through voter mobilization efforts &  

issue ads that do not directly endorse or oppose a  

candidate; they are not subject to contribution limits &  

spending caps

 Super PACs resulted from Citizens United SC  

decision that authorized unlimited independent  

spending by corporations & labor unions in federal  


o Cultivating media contacts

o Bypassing government: the initiative process

 A group can work to get its proposed policy change voted  on by the public in a general election through initiatives or  a referendum (both allow citizens to vote on specific  

proposed changes in policy

∙ Referendum: a direct vote by citizens on a policy  

change proposed by a legislature or another  

government body

∙ Initiative: a direct vote by citizens on a policy change

proposed by fellow citizens or organized groups  

outside government (California is known as the  

“champion” state for initiatives

The Power of Interest Groups

- Interest groups lobby their friends in government rather than  their enemies

- Some complaints about the power of interest groups come  from the losing side in the political process

- Many interest groups claim responsibility for policies &  election outcomes regardless of whether their lobbying made a difference

- Arguments about the impact of interest groups on election  outcomes ignore the fact that interest groups are almost  always active on both sides of an election campaign - What determines when interest groups succeed

o Change versus preventing change

o Salience

o Conflict

- Changes versus preventing change

o Studies show that lobbying is more successful when their goals  involve negative lobbying (blocking changes in policy)

 Ex: NRA

- Salience

o Salience: the level of familiarity with an interest group’s goals  among the general population

o Interest groups are more likely to succeed when their  request has low salience or attracts little public attention because when an issue is not popular, Congress members  & bureaucrats don’t have as much of an issue giving the  group what they want

- Conflict

o Influence is much less apparent on conflictual issues, or when  public opinion is split and groups are typically active on both  sides of the question

Chapter 5

Civil Rights

- Civil rights: rights that guarantee individuals freedom from  discrimination. Generally grounded in the Equal Protection clause of  the Fourteenth Amendment & more protected through specific laws  passed by Congress (especially the 1964 Civil Rights Act)

- Difference between civil liberties & civil rights

o Civil liberties=freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights & due process protection of the Fourteenth Amendment;  limits what gov can do to you; FREEDOM

o Civil Rights=protection for all persons from  

discrimination rooted in laws & the Equal Protection  clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; protect you from  discrimination from gov & individuals; EQUALITY

- Equality was not mentioned in the Const., but it is apparent in  the Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…”)

- African Americans

o Slavery Impact

 The Missouri Compromise of 1820: limited expansion of  slavery & attempted to abridge tensions b/t North & South  Dred Scott v Sanford (1857): SC ruled that states could not  ban slavery & claimed slaves as property & that citizens  

cannot be denied their property

 Southern states seceded to form Confederacy when  Lincoln became president due to his abolitionist


 After Civil War, states adopted the Civil War amendments  to the Const. (13th-banned slavery, 14th-due process &  equal protection,15th-African-American men could  vote)

o Voting Rights

 Disenfranchised: to be denied the ability to exercise a right ∙ Blacks were disenfranchised with their right to  vote in the South through the South’s use of  

residency requirements, poll taxes, literacy  

tests, and the grandfather clause

∙ Grandfather clause: a law enacted in several  

southern states that let all those able to vote prior to  

the Civil War be exempt from voting obstacles &  

literacy tests

o Jim Crow

 The South used “black codes” or Jim Crow Laws (forbade  interracial marriage, separated races in public facilities,  and public transportation

∙ Jim Crow Laws: state & local laws that mandated  

racial segregation in all public facilities in the South,  

many border states, and some northern communities

between 1876-1964

 Plessy v Ferguson: established “separate but equal”  

doctrine; permitted segregation as long as blacks had  

equally accessible facilities

∙ “Separate but equal” doctrine: the idea that racial  

segregation was acceptable as long as the separate  

facilities were of equal quality (struck down by Brown

v Board)

 Brown v Board II: ordered public schools be desegregated  with “deliberate speed”

- Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans

o Native Americans

 Native American & colonist relations became conflictual  with colonists’ desire for more land. They pushed Native  Americans out of their land & onto reservations

∙ Indian Removal Act (1830): the removal of 46,000  

members of the “Five Civilized Tribes” from  

southeastern U.S. Thousands died on the “Trail of  

Tears” on their way to reservations

 Native Americans had no political rights & did not  gain the right to vote until 1924

o Latinos

 Mexican-American War: the conquest of Mexican territory  by the United States of territory that makes up many  

southwestern states

 Nation’s largest minority

 Lack of political presence factors

∙ Vote at a much lower rate than African  

Americans because of language barriers & the  

fact many are not legal citizens

∙ Many diverse groups that differ politically in  

terms of party identification & ideologies

o Asian Americans

 1848 California Gold Rush attracted first group of  Chinese immigrants; when Gold Rush ended,  

Americans tried to drive out Asians through violence & taxes

 Chinese Exclusion Act (1882): prevented Chinese already in the United States from becoming citizens (children born in  the country were granted citizenship by SC) and barred all  immigration from China

- Women

o Constitution did not originally give women the right to  vote & not guaranteed until 1920 with the 19th 


o Protectionism: the idea that people have tried to rationalize  discriminatory policies by claiming some groups, like women or  African Americans, should be denied certain rights for their own  safety or well-being

o In 1869, Myra Bradwell was denied the ability to be a lawyer,  despite passing all requirements, because she was a woman. SC  stated it did not go against the 14th amendment because there  was no constitutional right to be an attorney

- Gays & Lesbians

o Gay Rights movement was spurred during a routine police raid  on the Stonewall Inn in NYC since police often raided gay bars to  selectively enforce liquor laws & harass people there. Customers  finally fought back & the rage against the cops lasted three  nights (Stonewall Rebellion)

o 2015, SC ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50  states

Racial Divide Today

- Discriminatory treatment

o Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: a group that filed  an average of 96,000 charges of employment discrimination  each year in the past five years

- Differences in Voting Access

o Practices & institutions that specifically aim to reduce minority  voting account for the lower voter turnout of specific minorities  NAACP (National Association of for the Advancement of  Colored People) recorded instances of moving and reducing the number of polling places in areas with predominantly  minority voters, voter challenges to target minority voters,  redistricting to reduce minority power, withholding  

information about registration & voting procedures from  blacks, etc.

 In 2016, 17 changes were made to restrict access to  voting

∙ Required a photo ID to vote (some minorities do not  

have a photo ID)

∙ Requiring proof of citizenship before someone is  

allowed to vote

∙ Cutbacks in early voting days & times

∙ Making registration more difficult

- Socioeconomic Indicators

o Black & Hispanic families are recorded to be nearly three  times below the poverty line as white families; the  average white family has six times more the assets of  non-white families

o The gap between whites & blacks in terms of health (life  expectancy, diseases, cancer rates, infant mortality, etc.)  is large & increasing (life expectancy approx. 4 years  earlier than whites)

 At least some of this gap is contributed by government  policies & business-related decisions  

∙ “Environmental racism”: practices that increase the  

chance that minority groups are more likely to live in  

areas affected by pollution, toxic waste, and  

chemical sites

o Ex: 2015-2016, to save money, Flint, Michigan  

switched water supply from Lake Huron to Flint  

River. Residents of the poor, majority-black city

reported discolored & foul water, but city &  

state officials ignored complaints. Lead levels  

in the water surpassed safety levels & citizens  

experienced severe health issues

- Criminal Justice & Hate Crimes

o Racial Profiling

o Police shootings in minority communities

 2015, police killed 1,139 people in the US, 223  

unarmed & 75 were African Americans

Key Players in the Civil Rights Conflict

o Social Movements

 Women

∙ Susan B. Anthony & Elizabeth Cady Stanton held a  

large influence on the success of the Nineteenth  


 Civil Rights Movement

∙ Brown v Board of Education struck down school  

segregation, but most southern blacks saw little to  

no change in their daily lives

∙ 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a

white person, despite laws requiring her to do so.  

She was a well-educated, law-abiding citizen was  

arrested, and civil rights advocates began a bus  

boycott that lasted more than a year. Police arrested  

car-pool systems that blacks initiated

∙ Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of bus boycott &

was an influential leader of the Civil Rights  

Movement. His house was bombed & he was arrested

multiple times

 Nonviolent Protest

∙ Restaurant sit-ins at segregated counters spread  

throughout the country after 4 students were refused

service in Greensboro, North Carolina

∙ Some students in sit-ins experienced violence or  

arrests, but continued to respond with passive  


∙ Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was  

created to coordinate more non-violent protests

∙ Freedom Riders worked to enforce two SC decisions  

that banned segregation in interstate travel &  

facilities related to interstate travel

∙ In Birmingham, Alabama (had more racial violence

than any southern city), city closed its parks to  

avoid de-segregating them, enforced school  

segregation, & people castrated an integration  

supporter to intimidate other supporters

o Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested during a  

peaceful protest & wrote “Letter from the  

Birmingham Jail” which emphasized that  

everyone had an obligation to follow just laws  

but an equal obligation to disobey unjust ones

o Letter also laid out four steps of nonviolent  


 Collection of facts to determine  

whether injustices are in practice

 Negotiation with white leaders to  

change such injustices

 Self-purification, training the civil  

rights protesters to endure the  

abuse they would receive

 Direct action, nonviolent ways to  

create the environment in which  

change could occur

o Protesters began to use children in their  

protests. More than 1,000 children were  

arrested & police forces used fire hoses  

and dogs on those who continued to  

march. This action turned public opinion  

in favor of the marchers

o The Courts

 Challenging “Separate but Equal” Education

∙ 1930s, NAACP was established to fight for equal  rights for black people

∙ Challenge strategies

o Targeted segregation policies in schools

o Challenged admission practices in law  

schools outside the South

∙ Thurgood Marshall (first African-American SC justice)  was a NAACP attorney challenged U of Maryland’s  

sending of black students to out-of-state law schools  rather than admitting them to their “all-white”  

school. He won the case in a circuit court decision

∙ NAACP decided to challenge the “separate but equal” issue on a case-by-case basis

∙ The Court ruled against the “restrictive covenants” in real-estate contracts went against the Fourteenth  

Amendment because they prevented property  

owners from selling to African Americans

 Push to Desegregate Schools

∙ Brown v Board II: addressed the implementation of  desegregation & required states to “desegregate  

with all deliberate speed”

o Southerners interpreted that this wording

allowed them to take their time  

implementing such policies

∙ 1971, Courts shifted from de jure segregation to de  facto segregation

o De jure: relating to actions or circumstances  that occur “by law” (segregation mandated by  law)

o De facto: relating to actions or circumstances  that occur outside the law or “by fact”  

(segregation that existed due to segregated  

housing patterns)

 Expanding Civil Rights

∙ Justices ruled that Congress had the power to  eliminate segregation in schools & public  accommodations under the commerce clause o Hotels were close to interstate highways &  

clientele often came from out-of-state,  

restaurants with food & supplies that came  

from interstate trade

∙ Disparate impact standard: the idea that  

discrimination exists if a practice has a negative  effect on a specific group, whether or not the effect  was intentional

 Color-blind Court & Judicial Activism

∙ 1992, racial redistricting where 15 U.S. House  districts were re-drawn to help elect African  Americans & 10 new districts were drawn to  help elect Latino members

o Resulted in a >50% increase in the number of  minorities in Congress

∙ Shaw v Reno (1993): landmark case that ruled that  black-majority districts are legal as long as they are  “done right,”

∙ 2013, Court struck down important part of the 1965  VRA that concerned the “coverage formula” (which  determines which states have to get approval from  the Justice Dept. before implementing changes in an  election law or practice (redistricting or moving  polls)) and that the “preclearance” part of the law  (which prevented discriminatory practices) was an  unconstitutional burden on the states & violation of  the Tenth Amendment

 Women’s Rights

∙ Idaho state law that gave a man priority over a  woman to execute a personal estate was ruled  arbitrary by the Court and that it violated a women’s  rights under the Fourteenth Amendment

∙ Female air force officer wanted to declare her  husband as her dependent for health & housing

benefits. At the time, a woman could only do so if  she brought in more than half the family income. The Court struck down this practice, saying protectionist  laws “put women in a cage”

∙ Both cases relied on the rational basis test

o Rational basis test: the use of evidence to  

suggest that differences in the behavior of two  groups can rationalize unequal treatment of  

these groups

 Ex: federal law that 21 is the drinking  

age is legal due to lesser traffic fatalities

∙ Other tests that the Court uses

o Strict scrutiny test: there must be a  

“compelling state interest” to discriminate  

among people if race is involved

 Gave racial minorities the strongest  


 Gave basis to how Japanese internment  

camps were allowed due to the concern  

of national security

o Intermediate scrutiny test: government’s policy must be “substantially related” to an  

“important government objective,” but not a  

“compelling state interest”

∙ Affirmative Action

∙ Protection against sexual harassment

∙ Pay gap

o In 2016, Obama issued an executive order that required companies to report their  

pay based on gender, race, and ethnicity  

to the national government

 Gay Rights

∙ Lawrence v Texas (2003): Due process clause of the  Fourteenth Amendment guarantees freedom of  intimate conduct (including homosexual relations).  Reasoning was rooted in the substantive due process doctrine

o Substantive due process doctrine: one  

interpretation of the due process clause that  

gives the SC power to overturn laws that  

infringe on individual liberties

o Decision overturned Bowers v Hardwick

∙ 2013, Court struck down part of the Defense of  Marriage Act (DOMA) as a violation of the Fifth  Amendment’s due process clause saying that

the fed government cannot deny legal benefits  to same-sex couples who are legally married  

under state law

∙ Obergefell v Hodges (2015): legalized same-sex  marriage nationally

o Congress

 Key Early Legislation

∙ VRA of 1965: eliminated direct obstacles to  

minority voting in the South (discriminatory  

literacy tests, etc.) & provided means of  

enforcing the law (federal marshals were  

implemented in overseeing elections in the  


∙ The Fair Housing Act of 1968: barred discrimination in the rental or sale of a home based on race, sex,  

religion, or nationality. Amendments added included  disabilities and familial status

 Protections for Women

∙ Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: barred discrimination  on the basis of gender

∙ Title IX of the Education Amendments: prohibits sex  discrimination in institutions that receive federal  

funds (greatest impact on women’s sports)

∙ Equal Rights Amendment: a failed amendment  approved by Congress in 1972 that fell 3 states short of the 38 needed to be adopted

∙ Violence Against Women Act: allowed women who  were victims of physical abuse and violence to sue in federal court & provided funding for investigating  

and prosecuting violent crimes against women &  

helping the victims

 Protections for Disabled

∙ 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act: provided strong federal protections for disabled Americans to prevent workplace discrimination and provide access to  

public facilities. Provided an equal opportunity to  

participate in society

 Protections for Gay Rights

∙ DOMA (1996): act that defined marriage as strictly  between a man and a woman & barred same-sex  

married couples federal benefits (struck down in  

2013 & overturned in 2015)

o The President

 Truman’s integration of the armed services in 1948

 Kennedy in 1961 and Johnson in 1965 established  affirmative action (action or policy favoring those who  

tend to suffer from discrimination)

 President Clinton’s crafted a compromise policy of  “don’t ask, don’t tell” in an effort to end the ban on  gays in the military

 Bill Clinton

∙ Cabinet achieved the greatest gender and  

racial balance in history

 George W. Bush

∙ Had most diverse cabinet appointments in  

Republican history

 Barack Obama

∙ Appointed Eric Holder, the first African American  

attorney general and Sonia Sotomayor, the first  

Latina Supreme Court Justice

∙ Used the bully pulpit to draw more attention to  

women’s issues (rape on college campuses and  

equal pay)

∙ Used executive actions to limit the deportation of  

young adults brought to America as young children

∙ Brought forth issues of racial disparities in criminal  

justice system

Civil Rights Issues Today

- Three groups hold perspectives on the direction of the civil rights  movement in the twenty-first century

o Scholars that suggest our nation must “move beyond  race”

 Argues that on many social & economic indicators the gap  between blacks & whites have narrowed and that public  

opposition to race-based policies indicates the need for a  

new approach

 SC has largely endorsed this view w/ their “color-blind  


o Represented by traditional civil rights activists (NAACP,  etc.)

 Argues that the civil rights movement must continue to  fight for equal opportunity by enforcing existing law &  

protecting and expanding affirmative action programs that  address racial inequality

 Most civil rights advocates support this group; see that the  work of the civil rights movement is not complete

o Activists who do not support integration

 Argue for African American self-sufficiency and separation,  claiming that they can never gain equality in what they see as the white-dominated economic & political system

- Affirmative Action

o President Lyndon Johnson issued an executive order in 1965  required all federal agencies to submit written proposals to  provide an equal opportunity for employment of minority groups  within various job categories

 Under President Nixon, the policy expanded and affirmative action programs gained precedence in the private sector,  higher education, and government contracting

 Special opportunities were given to minority groups  to make up for past discrimination or to pursue  


o Forms of affirmative action

 Most passive type

∙ Extra effort to recruit women and minorities for  

employment or college admission by placing ads in  

publications, visiting inner-city schools, or sending  

targeted mailings

 Active form

∙ Involves including race or gender as a “plus factor”  

in terms of admissions or hiring decisions (usually  

race and not gender)

 Strongest form

∙ The use of quotas to hire or admit a specific number  of applicants from underrepresented groups

o Many whites see it as “reverse discrimination” & support more  passive forms

o Supreme Court upheld preferential treatment and quotas in  instances where discriminatory practices & exclusion had been  previously used

o Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978): landmark  case involving affirmative action in which a white student did not make admissions to U of California, Davis despite being more  qualified in test scores & grades than minority-approved  students. The quota the school had was deemed  

unconstitutional, but the “plus factor” of race was allowed in an  effort for schools to promote racial diversity

o Voters in Michigan passed Proposal 2, which made it  illegal for state bodies to consider race in admissions &  hiring decisions; policy was upheld by SC, meaning that  states will be able to decide whether to use affirmative  action in higher education because the policy is not  prohibited nor required by the Const.

- Multicultural issues

o Two issues arise as whites cease to constitute the majority of the  population by mid-century

 English as the country’s official language

 Immigration Reform

o English as the country’s official language

 Alexander v Sandoval (2001): individuals may not sue  federally funded state agencies over policies that have a  discriminatory effect on minorities (Sandoval sued Alabama state law that required driver’s license tests to only be  

conducted in English

o Immigration Reform

 In 2016, after terrorist attacks in various places in  the world, the tone for the election focused on anti immigration

 Anti-immigration laws in Arizona in 2010 allowed for law enforcement officials to check for citizenship status of a  person in a lawful stop or arrest if there is a “reasonable  suspicion” that the person is an immigrant

∙ SC struck down ¾ of the main provisions, citing the  

Supremacy Clause. Upheld the “show me your  

papers” part in order to ensure the states were  

enforcing the federal law; however, ruled that law  

must be implemented in a race-neutral way & could  

be struck down if there was racial profiling evidence

 In 2015, majority of citizens polled believed that the government should allow illegal immigrants to  

remain in the U.S. & become citizens if they pass  

certain requirements

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