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Meese Position on Hiring Goals

February 24, 1986

Generally I resist the temptation to write to correct errors that occasionally find their way into your news columns or those of a number of others around the country; usually, they are fairly minor. But on Feb. 12, The Times printed a story over the byline of your Washington bureau chief, which so badly misstated the facts that I feel I must seek to correct it in print.

The story refers, in the first paragraph, to "a proposal by Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III to abolish the 20-year-old executive order that empowers the Labor Department to set minority hiring goals and timetables for federal contractors" (emphasis added). The statement is flatly untrue. I have made no such proposal, and in fact favor an approach which would simply add language to the executive order to assure that its original purpose, achieving nondiscrimination in hiring, is held paramount.

As the President noted in his remarks at the news conference mentioned in the story, it has sometimes been the case that the actual implementation of a government program ends up taking a very different turn from what was intended. in this case, a program designed to end employment discrimination became one in which goals and timetables were utilized to encourage discrimination.

I favor, and the President has long favored, a system in which affirmative action is used to ensure that minorities and women are afforded every opportunity to compete on an equal basis for jobs and promotion in the labor market. The imposition of quotas, or functional equivalents which go by some other name, necessarily defeat that objective, since they prefer some and not others because of race, sex, religion or national origin. Neither policy nor law should permit such practices. They were not part of the original executive order, they were abhored by those who initiated the order, and they will not be tolerated by this Administration.

EDWIN MEESE III

Attorney General

Washington

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