Two years later, when the Supreme Court maintained a brawl program that reserved 10 percent of federal public money work for minority entrepreneurs, Justice Stevens was one of three dissenters, along with Justices Stewart and Rehnquist. In his contradictory opinion, Fullilove against Klutznick, he warned that the "slapdash charter", as he described it, could become "a permanent source of justification for the granting of special privileges".
In 1989, he voted with 6 to 3 majority who annulled a 30 per cent minority agreement with set-aside in the city of Richmond, Va. Justices Marshall, Brennan and Blackmun opposed, with Justice Blackmun commenting, "I never thought I would live to see the day" when the former "Old Coat of Arms" would adopt a plan to help their African American residents overcome a legacy of discrimination, only to see the effort of "this court, the supposed bastion of equality". [1
He had said so much in a deviant opinion in 1986 in a case that challenged a collective agreement that foreclosed African-American teachers against layoffs in a Michigan school school district. The agreement was intended to preserve a hard-won breed balance in an economically troubled district where newly-employed minority teachers would have been most vulnerable to seniority-based layoffs.
The 5 to 4 majority in that case, Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, concluded that the policy violated the white teacher's 14th amendment right to equal protection. Justice Powell explained that there was no evidence of previous discrimination, for which the policy could be justified as an appropriate remedy.
In contrast, Justice Stevens belonged to the majority's mistake was to look backwards rather than forward. Instead of asking whether politics could be justified "as a cure for past sins", I believe, "I think we should first ask whether the board's actions promote the public interest in educating children for the future."
In a speech in 2004, Justice Stevens reflected on the "particularly close" relationship he had with Justice Powell, despite their differences in the Wygant case. He recalled that as the case would be the subject of argument, an everyday conversation occurred between them.