Charles Fried

Recent Articles

Uneasy Preferences

What will become of our ideal of truly equal opportunity if black progress remains chronically dependent on programs of racial categories and quotas?

As solicitor general in the second Reagan administration, I led the charge in the Supreme Court against government-imposed racial preferences. I did it with conviction and enthusiasm. And in those years and the years since, the Court has indeed been moving in the direction we were urging. First the Court decreed that all state-imposed racial preferences, whether "benign" or not, must meet the hard-to-satisfy test of strict constitutional scrutiny. Later, it extended that ruling to racial preferences imposed not just by the states but by the federal government, and applied that same strict standard to strike down electoral districts designed primarily along racial grounds. Racial preferences have been a source of contest ever since they became an important tool of social policy in every part of our national lifeā€”jobs, admissions to colleges and graduate schools, government contracting, and grants of licenses and political appointments at every level and in every department of...