Decoding Richmond: Affirmative Action and the Elusive Meaning of Constitutional Equality

This Article first briefly considers the conceptual and constitutional framework out of which the controversy in Croson emerges. Next, the Article turns to Croson itself, and focuses on the Court’s adoption of the strict scrutiny test, on the disagreement among the Justices concerning the test’s meaning and implications, and on the Court’s use of decontextualization to manipulate the key conceptual and factual issues at stake. Finally, drawing upon the principle of equality of opportunity, the Article endeavors to demonstrate how the adoption of particular principles of substantive equality can lead to a comprehensive and coherent constitutional resolution of the affirmative action issues raised in Croson.