Cover image for A conflict of rights : the Supreme Court and affirmative action
A conflict of rights : the Supreme Court and affirmative action
Urofsky, Melvin I.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner's Sons ; Toronto : Collier Macmillan, [1991]

Physical Description:
xii, 270 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF228.J64 U76 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
KF228.J64 U76 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

When Diane Joyce, a white female, was hired as a road dispatcher in the Santa Clara County Transportation Agency, Paul Johnson sued. Were it not for the county's affirmative action plan, Johnson--a white male--would almost certainly have got the job. The author puts the case in its legal context and gives evenhanded treatment to both sides of the issue as he follows the case all the way to the Supreme Court. (An appendix contains the text of the 1987 decision.) Urofsky is less successful in conveying the "human stories" behind the case, which evidently prompted him to write about it. The account, drawn from court briefs and interviews with both parties and their lawyers, is somewhat tedious, yet the issues under discussion remain vital to the broader one of fairness in society. For active current affairs collections. ~--Anne Schmitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a lucid and dramatic account of an affirmative action case, Urofsky ( A Mind of One's Own ), professor of constitutional law at Virginia Commonwealth University, examines not only the specific history and broad philosophical bases of the case, but its long-term impact on individual lives. He records how a gender discrimination case, which concerned two equally qualified applicants--Diane Joyce and Paul Johnson--for a job as a road dispatcher on a California highway, made its way to the Supreme Court, where in 1987 it was decided in favor of the woman. While this was the first time affirmative action was extended to women as a group, and to public employees, the author points out that today, with an increasingly conservative court, affirmative action still remains an issue in contention. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Anyone who seeks an understanding of the complexities and dilemmas inherent in the practice of affirmative action programs could find no better primary source than Urofsky's superb account of the origin, trial, appeal, and the final decision in the case of Johnson v. Transportation Agency, Santa Clara County, California (1987). An illuminating view of the political and cultural milieu of the Supreme Court is woven through the narrative of the six-year legal battle fought by Paul Johnson, whose promotion was reversed in favor of a female, Diane Joyce, as a result of an affirmative action program. Urofsky skillfully disentangles the often bewildering elements of the US legal process and integrates them into a comprehensive whole. Especially noteworthy is his insightful analysis of the attorneys preparing themselves and their briefs for oral argument, the questioning from the bench during the hearing, the use of amicus curiae briefs, the role of public interest groups in litigation, and the internal procedures of the Supreme Court. This book is free of technical jargon and will be rewarding reading for the general public as well as for undergraduate students of the judiciary . Appendix contains the complete Supreme Court decision in the Johnson case. Careful documentation and good index. -R. J. Steamer, emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Boston