The following are some of the significant cases in this area. They are offered as a start to understanding the issues, and are not intended as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from DOI's Solicitor's Office or private counsel. These summaries are intended neither as a legal analysis regarding specific matters, nor as a complete review of the topic.

  1. Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 115 S.Ct. 2097 (1995). Supreme Court held that federal affirmative action programs that use racial and ethnic criteria as a basis for decision making are subject to strict judicial scrutiny. Under this standard, such programs must serve a compelling government interest and must be narrowly tailored to serve that interest. Targeted recruitment falls beneath the threshold of this standard, and is always appropriate unless it excludes other groups.
  1.  Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, 476 U.S. 267 (1986) Race-conscious affirmative action by a public agency is subject to "strict scrutiny" level of review, requiring proof of compelling governmental purposes such as providing a remedy for past discrimination.
  1. Piscataway Township Board of Education, Petitioner v. Sharon Taxman, 91 F3d 1547 (3rd. Cir. 1996) cert. dismissed pursuant to Rule 46.1, 118 S. Ct. 595 (1997). the court held that a race-conscious decision to lay off a tenured White teacher instead of an African-American teacher could not be justified by the Board's asserted reliance on the need for racial diversity among the staff at a high school. The court determined that the loss of an employee's job imposes too substantial of a harm to be justified by the goal of promoting diversity, even if the goal were legitimate under Title VII. The case was settled before the Supreme court could rule on the issue.
  1. Saint Francis College v. Al-Khazraji, 481 U.S. 604, 107 S.Ct. 2022 (1987). The concept of race prohibits discrimination against Iraqis and Jews because of their ethnic origins, as opposed to their nationality or religion.
  1. Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co., Inc., 414 U.S. 86, 94 S.Ct. 334 (1973). Title 7 proscribes discrimination because of "national origin", which means the country from which your forbearers came. 
  1. City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989). Supreme Court held that race-base affirmative action by state and local governments is subject to strict scrutiny.