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Introduction
President John F. Kennedy introduced affirmative action programs to the United States in the early 1960s in effort to redress the history of systemic racial discrimination in the nation (Massey, 2004). As a world leader, the United States has an important influence over this issue, with numerous cases taken to the courts in recent decades. The original purpose of affirmative action programs was to pressure institutions into compliance with the equal rights mandate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Massey, 2004). Since then, the issue has become a popular contemporary debate, questioning the morality, legality, and constitutional legitimacy of these programs, particularly with regard to academic admissions. The principal matter I will address in this paper is: Are affirmative action programs just? Furthermore, how do different justice theories defend the necessity and legitimacy of such programs? With divergent opinions on justice and morality, distributive and procedural justice theories perceive and allow for the implementation of affirmative action programs in differen…
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