UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
TITLE VI OF THE 1964 CIVIL RIGHTS ACT
YES! Justices BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL and BLACKMUN in standard type, from their CONCURRING OPINION: Title VI was motivated primarily by a desire to eradicate a very specific evil: federal financial support of programs which disadvantaged Negroes by excluding or segregating them. It is inconceivable that Congress intended to encourage voluntary efforts to eliminate the evil of racial discrimination while at the same time forbidding the voluntary use of race-conscious remedies to cure acknowledged or obvious statutory violations. Yet a reading of Title VI as prohibiting any action based on race would prevent such action even when necessary to bring federally supported programs into compliance with constitutional requirements.
NO! Interspersed REBUTTAL by CURTIS CRAWFORD, in italic type: These Justices rewrite the statute, ignoring not only its language but the moral principle it embodies. No doubt, racial discrimination against blacks was viewed as the central problem. Absent this concern, there might have been no civil rights legislation. Nevertheless, the rights to nondiscrimination recognized in Title VI (and elsewhere in the 1964 Civil Rights Act) apply to other bases of discrimination as well as race and to all persons equally, regardless of their demographic group. The immediate effect of permitting racial preference for minorities as "a remedy for societal discrimination" is to undermine the ban on racial discrimination against whites. The larger consequence is to undermine the ban on racial discrimination, no matter whom it targets.
Justices Brennan, White, Marshall and Blackmun
In our view, *Title VI prohibits only those uses of racial criteria that would violate the Fourteenth Amendment if employed by a State or its agencies; it does not bar the preferential treatment of racial minorities as a means of remedying past societal discrimination to the extent that such action is consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment.* **The legislative history of Title VI, administrative regulations interpreting the statute, subsequent congressional and executive action, and the prior decisions of this Court compel this conclusion.** None of these sources lends support to the proposition that Congress intended to bar all race-conscious efforts to extend the benefits of federally financed programs to minorities who have been historically excluded from the full benefits of American life.
The history of Title VI—from *President Kennedy's request that Congress grant executive departments and agencies  authority to cut off federal funds to programs that discriminate against Negroes* through final enactment of legislation incorporating his proposals—reveals **one fixed purpose: to give the Executive Branch of Government clear authority to terminate federal funding of private programs that use race as a means of disadvantaging minorities in a manner that would be prohibited by the Constitution if engaged in by government.**
This purpose was first expressed in President Kennedy's June 19, 1963, message to Congress proposing the legislation that subsequently became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (9)  Representative Celler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the floor manager of the legislation in the House, introduced Title VI in words unequivocally expressing the intent to provide the Federal Government with the means of assuring that its funds were not used to subsidize racial discrimination inconsistent with the standards imposed by the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments upon state and federal action.
"The bill would offer assurance that hospitals financed by Federal money would not deny adequate care to Negroes. It would prevent abuse of food distribution programs whereby Negroes have been known to be denied food surplus supplies when white persons were given such food. *It would assure Negroes the benefits now accorded only white students in programs of high[er] education financed by Federal funds. It would, in short, assure the existing right to equal treatment in the enjoyment of Federal funds.* It would not destroy any rights of private property or freedom of association." 110 Cong. Rec. 1519 (1964).
It was clear to Representative Celler that Title VI, apart from the fact that it reached all federally funded activities even in the absence of sufficient state or federal control to invoke the Fourteenth or Fifth Amendments, was not placing new substantive limitations upon the use of racial criteria, but rather was designed to extend to such activities "the existing right to equal treatment" enjoyed by Negroes under those Amendments, and he later specifically defined the purpose of Title VI in this way:
"In general, it seems rather anomalous that the Federal Government should aid and abet discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by granting money  and other kinds of financial aid. It seems rather shocking, moreover, that while we have on the one hand *the 14th amendment, which is supposed to do away with discrimination since it provides for equal protection of the laws,* on the other hand, we have the Federal Government aiding and abetting those who persist in practicing racial discrimination. It is for these reasons that we bring forth title VI. The enactment of title VI will serve to override specific provisions of law which contemplate Federal assistance to racially segregated institutions." Id., at 2467.
Representative Celler also filed a memorandum setting forth the legal basis for the enactment of Title VI which reiterated the theme of his oral remarks: "In exercising its authority to fix the terms on which Federal funds will be disbursed . . . , Congress clearly has power to legislate so as to insure that the Federal Government does not become involved in a violation of the Constitution." Id., at 1528.
Other sponsors of the legislation agreed with Representative Celler that the function of Title VI was to end the Federal Government's complicity in conduct, particularly the segregation or exclusion of Negroes, inconsistent with the standards to be found in the antidiscrimination provisions of the Constitution. Representative Lindsay, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, candidly acknowledged, in the course of explaining why Title VI was necessary, that it did not create any new standard of equal treatment beyond that contained in the Constitution:
"Both the Federal Government and the States are under *constitutional mandates not to discriminate.* Many have raised the question as to whether legislation is required at all. Does not the Executive already have the power in the distribution of Federal funds to apply those conditions which will enable the Federal Government itself to live up to the mandate of the Constitution and to require  States and local government entities to live up to the Constitution, most especially the 5th and 14th amendments?" Id., at 2467.
He then explained that legislation was needed to authorize the termination of funding by the Executive Branch because existing legislation seemed to contemplate the expenditure of funds to support racially segregated institutions. Ibid. The views of Representatives Celler and Lindsay concerning the purpose and function of Title VI were shared by other sponsors and proponents of the legislation in the House. (10) *Nowhere is there any suggestion that Title VI was intended to terminate federal funding for any reason other than consideration of race or national origin by the recipient institution in a manner inconsistent with the standards incorporated in the Constitution.*
The Senate's consideration of Title VI reveals an identical understanding concerning the purpose and scope of the legislation. Senator Humphrey, the Senate floor manager, opened the Senate debate with a section-by-section analysis of the Civil Rights Act in which he succinctly stated the purpose of Title VI:
*"The purpose of title VI is to make sure that funds of the United States are not used to support racial discrimination.* In many instances the practices of segregation or discrimination, which title VI seeks to end, are unconstitutional. This is clearly so wherever Federal funds go to a State agency which engages in racial discrimination. It may also be so where Federal funds go to support private, segregated institutions, under the decision in Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, 323 F.2d 959 (C. A. 4, 1963), [cert. denied, 376 U.S. 938 (1964)]. **In all cases, such discrimination is contrary to national policy, and to the moral sense of the Nation. Thus, title VI is simply  designed to insure that Federal funds are spent in accordance with the Constitution and the moral sense of the Nation." Id., at 6544.**
Senator Humphrey, in words echoing statements in the House, explained that legislation was needed to accomplish this objective because it was necessary to eliminate uncertainty concerning the power of federal agencies to terminate financial assistance to programs engaging in racial discrimination in the face of various federal statutes which appeared to authorize grants to racially segregated institutions. Ibid. Although Senator Humphrey realized that Title VI reached conduct which, because of insufficient governmental action, might be beyond the reach of the Constitution, *it was clear to him that the substantive standard imposed by the statute was that of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.*
Senate supporters of Title VI repeatedly expressed agreement with Senator Humphrey's description of the legislation as providing the explicit authority and obligation to apply the standards of the Constitution to all recipients of federal funds. Senator Ribicoff described the limited function of Title VI: "Basically, there is a constitutional restriction against discrimination in the use of Federal funds; and title VI simply spells out the procedure to be used in enforcing that restriction." Id., at 13333.
Other strong proponents of the legislation in the Senate repeatedly expressed their intent to assure that federal funds would only be spent in accordance with constitutional standards. See remarks of Senator Pastore, id., at 7057, 7062; Senator Clark, id., at 5243; Senator Allott, id., at 12675, 12677. (11) 
Respondent's contention that Congress intended Title VI to bar affirmative-action programs designed to enable minorities disadvantaged by the effects of discrimination to participate in federally financed programs is also refuted by an examination of the type of conduct which Congress thought it was prohibiting by means of Title VI. The debates reveal that the legislation was motivated primarily by a desire to eradicate a very specific evil: federal financial support of programs which disadvantaged Negroes by excluding them from participation or providing them with separate facilities. Again and again supporters of Title VI emphasized that the purpose of the statute was to end segregation in federally funded activities and to end other discriminatory uses of race disadvantaging Negroes. Senator Humphrey set the theme in his speech presenting Title VI to the Senate:
"Large sums of money are contributed by the United States each year for the construction, operation, and maintenance of segregated schools. . . . .
" Similarly, under the Hill-Burton Act, Federal grants are made to hospitals which admit whites only or Negroes only. . . .
"In higher education also, a substantial part of the Federal grants to colleges, medical schools and so forth, in the South is still going to segregated institutions.  Nor is this all. In several States, agricultural extension services, supported by Federal funds, maintain racially segregated offices for Negroes and whites. . . .
". . . Vocational training courses, supported with Federal funds, are given in segregated schools and institutions and often limit Negroes to training in less skilled occupations. In particular localities it is reported that Negroes have been cut off from relief rolls, or denied surplus agricultural commodities, or otherwise deprived of the benefit of federally assisted programs, in retaliation for their participation in voter registration drives, sit-in demonstrations and the like." Id., at 6543-6544.
See also the remarks of Senator Pastore (id., at 7054-7055); Senator Ribicoff (id., at 7064-7065); Senator Clark (id., at 5243, 9086); Senator Javits (id., at 6050, 7102). (12)
The conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing is clear. Congress recognized that Negroes, in some cases with congressional acquiescence, were being discriminated against in the administration of programs and denied the full benefits of activities receiving federal financial support. It was aware that there were many federally funded programs and institutions which discriminated against minorities in a manner inconsistent with the standards of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments but whose activities might not involve sufficient state or federal action so as to be in violation of these Amendments. Moreover, Congress believed that it was questionable whether the Executive Branch possessed legal authority to terminate the funding of activities on the ground that they discriminated racially against Negroes in a manner violative of the standards contained in the Fourteenth and Fifth  Amendments. Congress' solution was to end the Government's complicity in *constitutionally forbidden racial discrimination* by providing the Executive Branch with the authority and the obligation to terminate its financial support of any activity which employed racial criteria in a manner condemned by the Constitution.
Of course, *it might be argued that the Congress which enacted Title VI understood the Constitution to require strict racial neutrality or color blindness, and then enshrined that concept as a rule of statutory law.* Later interpretation and clarification of the Constitution to permit remedial use of race would then not dislodge Title VI's prohibition of race-conscious action. But there are three compelling reasons to reject such a hypothesis.
First, no decision of this Court has ever adopted the proposition that the Constitution must be colorblind. See infra, at 355-356.
Second, even if it could be argued in 1964 that the Constitution might conceivably require color blindness, *Congress surely would not have chosen to codify such a view unless the Constitution clearly required it.* **The legislative history of Title VI, as well as the statute itself, reveals a desire to induce voluntary compliance with the requirement of nondiscriminatory treatment.(13) See § 602 of the Act, 42 U. S. C. § 2000d-1 (no funds shall be terminated unless and until it has been "determined that compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means"); H. R. Rep. No. 914, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 1, p. 25 (1963); 110 Cong. Rec. 13700 (1964) (Sen. Pastore); id., at 6546 (Sen. Humphrey). It is inconceivable that Congress intended to encourage voluntary efforts to eliminate the evil of racial discrimination while at the same time forbidding the voluntary use of race-conscious remedies to cure acknowledged or obvious statutory violations. Yet a reading of Title VI as prohibiting all action predicated upon race which adversely  affects any individual would require recipients guilty of discrimination to await the imposition of such remedies by the Executive Branch. Indeed, such an interpretation of Title VI would prevent recipients of federal funds from taking race into account even when necessary to bring their programs into compliance with federal constitutional requirements.**
This would be a remarkable reading of a statute designed to eliminate constitutional violations, *especially in light of judicial decisions holding that under certain circumstances the remedial use of racial criteria is not only permissible but is constitutionally required to eradicate constitutional violations. For example, in Board of Education v. Swann, 402 U.S. 43 (1971), the Court held that a statute forbidding the assignment of students on the basis of race was unconstitutional because it would hinder the implementation of remedies necessary to accomplish the desegregation of a school system:* "Just as the race of students must be considered in determining whether a constitutional violation has occurred, so also must race be considered in formulating a remedy." Id., at 46.
Surely *Congress did not intend to prohibit the use of racial criteria when constitutionally required* or to terminate the funding of any entity which implemented such a remedy. It clearly desired to encourage all remedies, including the use of race, necessary to eliminate racial discrimination in violation of the Constitution rather than requiring the recipient to await a judicial adjudication of unconstitutionality and the judicial imposition of a racially oriented remedy.
Third, the legislative history shows that Congress specifically eschewed any static definition of discrimination in favor of broad language that could be shaped by experience, administrative necessity, and evolving judicial doctrine. Although it is clear from the debates that the supporters of Title VI intended to ban uses of race prohibited by the Constitution and, more specifically, the maintenance of  segregated facilities, *they never precisely defined the term "discrimination," or what constituted an exclusion from participation or a denial of benefits on the ground of race.* This failure was not lost upon its opponents. Senator Ervin complained:
See also remarks of Representative Abernethy (id., at 1619); Representative Dowdy (id., at 1632); Senator Talmadge (id., at 5251); Senator Sparkman (id., at 6052). Despite these criticisms, *the legislation's supporters refused to include in the statute or even provide in debate a more explicit definition of what Title VI prohibited.*
The explanation for this failure is clear. Specific definitions were undesirable, in the views of the legislation's principal backers, because Title VI's standard was that of the Constitution and one that could and should be administratively and judicially applied. See remarks of Senator Humphrey (id., at 5253, 6553); Senator Ribicoff (id., at 7057, 13333); Senator Pastore (id., at 7057); Senator Javits (id., at 5606-5607, 6050). (14)
Indeed, there was a strong emphasis throughout  Congress' consideration of Title VI on providing the Executive Branch with considerable flexibility in interpreting and applying the prohibition against racial discrimination. Attorney General Robert Kennedy testified that regulations had not been written into the legislation itself because the rules and regulations defining discrimination might differ from one program to another so that the term would assume different meanings in different contexts.(15) This determination to preserve flexibility in the administration of Title VI was shared by the legislation's supporters. When Senator Johnston offered an amendment that would have expressly authorized federal grantees to take race into account in placing children in adoptive and foster homes, Senator Pastore opposed the amendment, which was ultimately defeated by a 56-29 vote, on the ground that federal administrators could be trusted to act reasonably and that there was no danger that they would prohibit the use of racial criteria under such circumstances. Id., at 13695.
Congress' resolve not to incorporate a static definition of discrimination into Title VI is not surprising. In 1963 and 1964, when Title VI was drafted and debated, the courts had only recently applied the Equal Protection Clause to strike down public racial discrimination in America, and the scope of that Clause's nondiscrimination principle was in a state of flux and rapid evolution. Many questions, such as whether the Fourteenth Amendment barred only de jure discrimination or in at least some circumstances reached de facto discrimination, had not yet received an authoritative judicial resolution. The congressional debate reflects an awareness of the  evolutionary change that constitutional law in the area of racial discrimination was undergoing in 1964.(16)
In sum, Congress' equating of Title VI's prohibition with the commands of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, its refusal precisely to define that racial discrimination which it intended to prohibit, and its expectation that the statute would be administered in a flexible manner, compel the conclusion that Congress intended the meaning of the statute's prohibition to evolve with the interpretation of the commands of the Constitution. Thus, any claim that the use of racial criteria is barred by the plain language of the statute must fail in light of the remedial purpose of Title VI and its legislative history. The cryptic nature of the language employed in Title VI merely reflects Congress' concern with the then-prevalent use of racial standards as a means of excluding or disadvantaging Negroes and its determination to prohibit absolutely such discrimination. We have recently held that "'[when] aid to construction of the meaning of words, as used in the statute, is available, there certainly can be no "rule of law" which forbids its use, however clear the words may appear on "superficial examination."'" Train v. Colorado Public Interest Research Group, 426 U.S. 1, 10 (1976), quoting United States v. American Trucking Assns., 310 U.S. 534, 543-544 (1940). This is especially so when, as is the case here, *the literal application of what is believed to be the plain language of the statute, assuming that it is so plain, would lead to results in direct conflict with Congress' unequivocally expressed legislative purpose.* (17). 
*Section 602 of Title VI, 42 U. S. C. § 2000d-1, instructs federal agencies to promulgate regulations interpreting Title  VI. These regulations, which, under the terms of the statute, require Presidential approval, are entitled to considerable deference in construing Title VI.* See, e. g., Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974); Mourning v. Family Publications Service, Inc., 411 U.S. 356, 369 (1973); Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367, 381 (1969). Consequently, it is most significant that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), which provides much of the federal assistance to institutions of higher education, has adopted regulations requiring affirmative measures designed to enable racial minorities which have been previously discriminated against by a federally funded institution or program to overcome the effects of such actions and authorizing the voluntary undertaking of affirmative-action programs by federally funded institutions that have not been guilty of prior discrimination in order to overcome the effects of conditions which have adversely affected the degree of participation by persons of a particular race.
Title 45 CFR § 80.3 (b)(6)(i) (1977) provides: "In administering a program regarding which the recipient has previously discriminated against persons on the ground of race, color, or national origin, *the recipient must take affirmative action to overcome the effects of prior discrimination."*
Title 45 CFR § 80.5 (i) (1977) elaborates upon this requirement: "In some situations, *even though past discriminatory practices attributable to a recipient or applicant have been abandoned,* the consequences of such practices continue to impede the full availability of a benefit. If the efforts required of the applicant or recipient under § 80.6 (d), to provide information as to the availability of the program or activity and the rights of beneficiaries under this regulation, have failed to overcome these consequences, **it will become necessary under the requirement stated in (i) of § 80.3 (b)(6) for such applicant or recipient to take additional steps to make the benefits  fully available to racial and nationality groups previously subject to discrimination.** This action might take the form, for example, of special arrangements for obtaining referrals or making selections which will insure that groups previously subjected to discrimination are adequately served."
*These regulations clearly establish that where there is a need to overcome the effects of past racially discriminatory or exclusionary practices engaged in by a federally funded institution, race-conscious action is not only permitted but required to accomplish the remedial objectives of Title VI.* (18) Of course, there is no evidence that the Medical School has been guilty of past discrimination and consequently these regulations would not compel it to employ a program of preferential admissions in behalf of racial minorities. It would be difficult to explain from the language of Title VI, however, much less from its legislative history, why the statute compels race-conscious remedies where a recipient institution has engaged in past discrimination but prohibits such remedial action where racial minorities, as a result of the effects of past discrimination imposed by entities other than the recipient, are excluded from the benefits of federally funded programs. HEW was fully aware of the incongruous nature of such an interpretation of Title VI.
Title 45 CFR § 80.3 (b)(6)(ii) (1977) provides: "Even in the absence of such prior discrimination, a recipient in administering a program may take affirmative action to overcome the effects of conditions which resulted  in limiting participation by persons of a particular race, color, or national origin."
An explanatory regulation explicitly states that the affirmative action which § 80.3 (b)(6)(ii) contemplates includes the use of racial preferences: "Even though an applicant or recipient has never used discriminatory policies, the services and benefits of the program or activity it administers may not in fact be equally available to some racial or nationality groups. In such circumstances, an applicant or recipient may properly give special consideration to race, color, or national origin to make the benefits of its program more widely available to such groups, not then being adequately served. For example, where a university is not adequately serving members of a particular racial or nationality group, it may establish special recruitment policies to make its program better known and more readily available to such group, and take other steps to provide that group with more adequate service." 45 CFR § 80.5 (j) (1977).
This interpretation of Title VI is fully consistent with the statute's emphasis upon voluntary remedial action and reflects the views of an agency (19) responsible for achieving its objectives. (20)
 The Court has recognized that the construction of a statute by those charged with its execution is particularly deserving of respect where Congress has directed its attention to the administrative construction and left it unaltered. Cf. Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S., at 381; Zemel v. Rusk, 381 U.S. 1, 11-12 (1965). *Congress recently took just this kind of action when it considered an amendment to the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare appropriation bill for 1978, which would have restricted significantly the remedial use of race in programs funded by the appropriation.*
The amendment, as originally submitted by Representative Ashbrook, provided that "[none] of the funds appropriated in this Act may be used to initiate, carry out or enforce any program of affirmative action or any other system of quotas or goals in regard to admission policies or employment practices which encourage or require any discrimination on the basis of race, creed, religion, sex or age." 123 Cong.  Rec. 19715 (1977). In support of the measure, Representative Ashbrook argued that the 1964 Civil Rights Act never authorized the imposition of affirmative action and that this was a creation of the bureaucracy. Id., at 19722. He explicitly stated, however, that he favored permitting universities to adopt affirmative-action programs giving consideration to racial identity but opposed the imposition of such programs by the Government. Id., at 19715. His amendment was itself amended to reflect this position by only barring the imposition of race-conscious remedies by HEW:
"None of the funds appropriated in this Act may be obligated or expended in connection with the issuance, implementation, or enforcement of any rule, regulation, standard, guideline, recommendation, or order issued by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare which for purposes of compliance with any ratio, quota, or other numerical requirement related to race, creed, color, national origin, or sex requires any individual or entity to take any action with respect to (1) the hiring or promotion policies or practices of such individual or entity, or (2) the admissions policies or practices of such individual or entity." Id., at 19722.
This amendment was adopted by the House. Ibid. The Senate bill, however, contained no such restriction upon HEW's authority to impose race-conscious remedies and the Conference Committee, upon the urging of the Secretary of HEW, deleted the House provision from the bill. (21) More significant for present purposes, however, is the fact that even the proponents of imposing limitations upon HEW's implementation of Title VI did not challenge the right of federally funded educational institutions voluntarily to extend preferences to racial minorities.  Finally, congressional action subsequent to the passage of Title VI eliminates any possible doubt about Congress' views concerning the permissibility of racial preferences for the purpose of assisting disadvantaged racial minorities. *It confirms that Congress did not intend to prohibit and does not now believe that Title VI prohibits the consideration of race as part of a remedy for societal discrimination even where there is no showing that the institution extending the preference has been guilty of past discrimination nor any judicial finding that the particular beneficiaries of the racial preference have been adversely affected by societal discrimination.*
Just last year Congress enacted legislation (22). explicitly requiring that no grants shall be made "for any local public works project unless the applicant gives satisfactory assurance to the Secretary [of Commerce] that at least 10 per centum of the amount of each grant shall be expended for minority business enterprises." The statute defines the term "minority business enterprise" as "a business, at least 50 per centum of which is owned by minority group members or, in case of a publicly owned business, at least 51 per centum of the stock of which is owned by minority group members." The term "minority group members" is defined in explicitly racial terms: "citizens of the United States who are Negroes, Spanish-speaking, Orientals, Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts." Although the statute contains an exemption from this requirement "to the extent that the Secretary determines otherwise," this escape clause was provided only to deal with the possibility that certain areas of the country might not contain sufficient qualified "minority business enterprises" to permit compliance with the quota provisions of the legislation. (23).
The legislative history of this race-conscious legislation reveals that it represents a deliberate attempt to deal with  the excessive rate of unemployment among minority citizens and to encourage the development of viable minority controlled enterprises. (24). It was believed that such a "set-aside" was required in order to enable minorities, still "new on the scene" and "relatively small," to compete with larger and more established companies which would always be successful in underbidding minority enterprises. 123 Cong. Rec. 5327 (1977) (Rep. Mitchell). What is most significant about the congressional consideration of the measure is that although the use of a racial quota or "set-aside" by a recipient of federal funds would constitute a direct violation of Title VI if that statute were read to prohibit race-conscious action, no mention was made during the debates in either the House or the Senate of even the possibility that the quota provisions for minority contractors might in any way conflict with or modify Title VI. It is inconceivable that such a purported conflict would have escaped congressional attention through an inadvertent failure to recognize the relevance of Title VI. Indeed, the Act of which this affirmative-action provision is a part also contains a provision barring discrimination on the basis of sex which states that this prohibition "will be enforced through agency provisions and rules similar to those already established, with respect to racial and other discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." 42 U. S. C. § 6709 (1976 ed.). Thus Congress was fully aware of the applicability of Title VI to the funding of public works projects. Under these circumstances, the enactment of the 10% "set-aside" for minority enterprises reflects a congressional judgment that the remedial use of race is permissible under Title VI. We have repeatedly recognized that subsequent legislation reflecting an interpretation of an earlier Act is entitled to great weight in determining the meaning of the earlier statute. Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S., at 380-381; Erlenbaugh v. United States, 409 U.S. 239, 243-244 (1972). See also United States v. Stewart, 311 U.S. 60, 64-65 (1940). (25).
Prior decisions of this Court also strongly suggest that Title VI does not prohibit the remedial use of race where such action is constitutionally permissible. In Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974), the Court held that the failure of the San  Francisco school system to provide English-language instruction to students of Chinese ancestry who do not speak English, or to provide them with instruction in Chinese, constituted a violation of Title VI. The Court relied upon an HEW regulation which stipulates that a recipient of federal funds "may not . . . utilize criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination" or have "the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program as respect individuals of a particular race, color, or national origin." 45 CFR § 80.3 (b)(2) (1977). It interpreted this regulation as requiring San Francisco to extend the same educational benefits to Chinese-speaking students as to English-speaking students, even though there was no finding or allegation that the city's failure to do so was a result of a purposeful design to discriminate on the basis of race.
Lau is significant in two related respects. First, it indicates that in at least some circumstances agencies responsible for the administration of Title VI may require recipients who have not been guilty of any constitutional violations to depart from a policy of color blindness and to be cognizant of the impact of their actions upon racial minorities. Secondly, Lau clearly requires that institutions receiving federal funds be accorded considerable latitude in voluntarily undertaking race-conscious action designed to remedy the exclusion of significant  numbers of minorities from the benefits of federally funded programs. Although this Court has not yet considered the question, presumably, by analogy to our decisions construing Title VII, a medical school would not be in violation of Title VI under Lau because of the serious underrepresentation of racial minorities in its student body as long as it could demonstrate that its entrance requirements correlated sufficiently with the performance of minority students in medical school and the medical profession. (26). It would be inconsistent with Lau and the emphasis of Title VI and the HEW regulations on voluntary action, however, to require that an institution wait to be adjudicated to be in violation of the law before being permitted to voluntarily undertake corrective action based upon a good-faith and reasonable belief that the failure of certain racial minorities to satisfy entrance requirements is not a measure of their ultimate performance as doctors but a result of the lingering effects of past societal discrimination.
We recognize that Lau, especially when read in light of our subsequent decision in Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229 (1976), which rejected the general proposition that governmental action is unconstitutional solely because it has a racially disproportionate impact, may be read as being predicated upon the view that, at least under some circumstances, Title VI proscribes conduct which might not be prohibited by the Constitution. Since we are now of the opinion, for the reasons set forth above, that Title VI's standard, applicable alike to public and private recipients of federal funds, is no broader than the Constitution's, we have serious doubts concerning the correctness of what appears to be the premise of that decision. However, even accepting Lau's implication that impact alone is in some contexts sufficient to establish a prima facie violation of Title VI, contrary to our view that Title VI's definition of racial discrimination is absolutely coextensive with the Constitution's, this would not assist the respondent  in the least. First, for the reasons discussed supra, at 336-350, regardless of whether Title VI's prohibitions extend beyond the Constitution's, the evidence fails to establish, and, indeed, compels the rejection of, the proposition that Congress intended to prohibit recipients of federal funds from voluntarily employing race-conscious measures to eliminate the effects of past societal discrimination against racial minorities such as Negroes. Secondly, Lau itself, for the reasons set forth in the immediately preceding paragraph, strongly supports the view that voluntary race-conscious remedial action is permissible under Title VI. *If discriminatory racial impact alone is enough to demonstrate at least a prima facie Title VI violation,* it is difficult to believe that the Title would forbid the Medical School from attempting to correct the racially exclusionary effects of its initial admissions policy during the first two years of the School's operation.
The Court has also declined to adopt a "colorblind" interpretation of other statutes containing nondiscrimination provisions similar to that contained in Title VI. We have held under Title VII that where employment requirements have a disproportionate impact upon racial minorities they constitute a statutory violation, even in the absence of discriminatory intent, unless the employer is able to demonstrate that the requirements are sufficiently related to the needs of the job. (27). More significantly, the Court has required that preferences be given by employers to members of racial minorities as a remedy for past violations of Title VII, even where there has been no finding that the employer has acted with a discriminatory intent. (28). Finally, we have construed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U. S. C. § 1973 et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V), which contains a provision barring any voting procedure or qualification that denies or abridges "the right of  any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color," as permitting States to voluntarily take race into account in a way that fairly represents the voting strengths of different racial groups in order to comply with the commands of the statute, even where the result is a gain for one racial group at the expense of others. (29).
These prior decisions are indicative of the Court's unwillingness to construe remedial statutes designed to eliminate discrimination against racial minorities in a manner which would impede efforts to attain this objective. There is no justification for departing from this course in the case of Title VI and frustrating the clear judgment of Congress that race-conscious remedial action is permissible.
7. Section 601 of Title VI provides: "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." 42 U. S. C. § 2000d. [return to text]
8. [Footnote 8 and the sentence to which it refers have been omitted.]
9.. "Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial discrimination. Direct discrimination by Federal, State or local governments is prohibited by the Constitution. But indirect discrimination, through the use of Federal funds, is just as invidious; and it should not be necessary to resort to the courts to prevent each individual violation. Congress and the Executive have their responsibilities to uphold the Constitution also . . . .
"Many statutes providing Federal financial assistance, however, define with such precision both the Administrator's role and the conditions upon which specified amounts shall be given to designated recipients that the amount of administrative discretion remaining -- which might be used to withhold funds if discrimination were not ended -- is at best questionable. No administrator has the unlimited authority to invoke the Constitution in opposition to the mandate of the Congress. Nor would it always be helpful to require unconditionally -- as is often proposed -- the withdrawal of all Federal funds from programs urgently needed by Negroes as well as whites; for this may only penalize those who least deserve it without ending discrimination.
"Instead of permitting this issue to become a political device often exploited by those opposed to social or economic progress, it would be better at this time to pass a single comprehensive provision making it clear that the Federal Government is not required, under any statute, to furnish any kind of financial assistance -- by way of grant, loan, contract, guaranty, insurance, or otherwise -- to any program or activity in which racial discrimination occurs. This would not permit the Federal Government to cut off all Federal aid of all kinds as a means of punishing an area for the discrimination occurring therein -- but it would clarify the authority of any administrator with respect to Federal funds or financial assistance and discriminatory practices." 109 Cong. Rec. 11161 (1963). [return to text]
10. See, e. g., 110 Cong. Rec. 2732 (1964) (Rep. Dawson); id., at 2481-2482 (Rep. Ryan); id., at 2766 (Rep. Matsunaga); id., at 2595 (Rep. Donahue). [return to text]
11. There is also language in 42 U. S. C. § 2000d-5, enacted in 1966, which supports the conclusion that Title VI's standard is that of the Constitution. Section 2000d-5 provides that "for the purpose of determining whether a local educational agency is in compliance with [Title VI], compliance by such agency with a final order or judgment of a Federal court for the desegregation of the school or school system operated by such agency shall be deemed to be compliance with [Title VI], insofar as the matters covered in the order or judgment are concerned." This provision was clearly intended to avoid subjecting local educational agencies simultaneously to the jurisdiction of the federal courts and the federal administrative agencies in connection with the imposition of remedial measures designed to end school segregation. Its inclusion reflects the congressional judgment that the requirements imposed by Title VI are identical to those imposed by the Constitution as interpreted by the federal courts. [return to text]
12. As has already been seen, the proponents of Title VI in the House were motivated by the identical concern. See remarks of Representative Celler (110 Cong. Rec. 2467 (1964)); Representative Ryan (id., at 1643, 2481-2482); H. R. Rep. No. 914, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., pt. 2, Additional Views of Seven Representatives 24-25 (1963). [return to text]
13. See separate opinion of MR. JUSTICE WHITE, post, at 2795-2796, n. 2. [return to text]
14. These remarks also reflect the expectations of Title VI's proponents that the application of the Constitution to the conduct at the core of their concern—the segregation of Negroes in federally funded programs and their exclusion from the full benefits of such programs—was clear. See supra, at 2770-2772; infra, at 2774-2775, n. 17. [return to text]
15. Testimony of Attorney General Kennedy in Hearings before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on S. 1731 and S. 1750, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 398-399 (1963). [return to text]
16. See, e. g., 110 Cong. Rec. 6544, 13820 (1964) (Sen. Humphrey); id., at 6050 (Sen. Javits); id., at 12677 (Sen. Allott). [return to text]
17. Our Brother STEVENS finds support for a colorblind theory of Title VI in its legislative history, but his interpretation gives undue weight to "a few isolated passages from among the thousands of pages of the legislative history of Title VI.* See id., at 6547 (Sen. Humphrey); id., at 6047, 7055 (Sen. Pastore); id., at 12675 (Sen. Allott); id., at 6561 (Sen. Kuchel). These fragmentary comments fall far short of supporting a congressional intent to prohibit a racially conscious admissions program designed to assist those who are likely to have suffered injuries from the effects of past discrimination. In the first place, these statements must be read in the context in which they were made. The concern of the speakers was far removed from the incidental injuries which may be inflicted upon nonminorities by the use of racial preferences. It was rather with the evil of the segregation of Negroes in federally financed programs and, in some cases, their arbitrary exclusion on account of race from the benefits of such programs. Indeed, in this context there can be no doubt that the Fourteenth Amendment does command color blindness and forbids the use of racial criteria. No consideration was given by these legislators, however, to the permissibility of racial preference designed to redress the effects of injuries suffered as a result of one's color. Significantly one of the legislators, Senator Pastore, and perhaps also Senator Kuchel, who described Title VI as proscribing decision making based upon skin color, also made it clear that Title VI does not outlaw the use of racial criteria in all circumstances. See supra, at 2773-2774; 110 Cong. Rec. 6562 (1964). See also id., at 2494 (Rep. Celler). Moreover, there are many statements in the legislative history explicitly indicating that Congress intended neither to require nor to prohibit the remedial use of racial preferences where not otherwise required or prohibited by the Constitution. Representative MacGregor addressed directly the problem of preferential treatment:
Other legislators explained that the achievement of racial balance in elementary and secondary schools where there had been no segregation by law was not compelled by Title VI but was rather left to the judgment of state and local communities. See, e. g., id., at 10920 (Sen. Javits); id., at 5807, 5266 (Sen. Keating); id., at 13821 (Sens. Humphrey and Saltonstall). See also, id., at 6562 (Sen. Kuchel); id., at 13695 (Sen. Pastore).
Much the same can be said of the scattered remarks to be found in the legislative history of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V), which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race in terms somewhat similar to those contained in Title VI, see 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-2 (a)(1) (unlawful "to fail or refuse to hire" any applicant "because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin . . . ."), to the effect that any deliberate attempt by an employer to maintain a racial balance is not required by the statute and might in fact violate it. See, e. g., 110 Cong. Rec. 7214 (1964) (Sens. Clark and Case); id., at 6549 (Sen. Humphrey); id., at 2560 (Rep. Goodell). Once again, there is no indication that Congress intended to bar the voluntary use of racial preferences to assist minorities to surmount the obstacles imposed by the remnants of past discrimination. Even assuming that Title VII prohibits employers from deliberately maintaining a particular racial composition in their work force as an end in itself, this does not imply, in the absence of any consideration of the question, that Congress intended to bar the use of racial preferences as a tool for achieving the objective of remedying past discrimination or other compelling ends. The former may well be contrary to the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment (where state action is involved), while the latter presents very different constitutional considerations. Indeed, as discussed infra, at 2780-2781, this Court has construed Title VII as requiring the use of racial preferences for the purpose of hiring and advancing those who have been adversely affected by past discriminatory employment practices, even at the expense of other employees innocent of discrimination. Franks v. Bowman Transportation Co., 424 U.S. 747, 767-768 (1976). Although Title VII clearly does not require employers to take action to remedy the disadvantages imposed upon racial minorities by hands other than their own, such an objective is perfectly consistent with the remedial goals of the statute. See id., at 762-770; Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 418 (1975). There is no more indication in the legislative history of Title VII than in that of Title VI that Congress desired to prohibit such affirmative action to the extent that it is permitted by the Constitution, yet judicial decisions as well as subsequent executive and congressional action clearly establish that Title VII does not forbid race-conscious remedial action. See infra, at 2780-2782, and n. 28. [return to text]
18. HEW has stated that the purpose of these regulations is "to specify that affirmative steps to make services more equitably available are not prohibited and that such steps are required when necessary to overcome the consequences of prior discrimination." 36 Fed. Reg. 23494 (1971). Other federal agencies which provide financial assistance pursuant to Title VI have adopted similar regulations. See Supplemental Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 16 n. 14. [return to text]
19. Moreover, the President has delegated to the Attorney General responsibility for coordinating the enforcement of Title VI by federal departments and agencies and has directed him to "assist the departments and agencies in accomplishing effective implementation." Exec. Order No. 11764, 3 CFR 849 (1971-1975 Comp.). Accordingly, the views of the Solicitor General, as well as those of HEW, that the use of racial preferences for remedial purposes is consistent with Title VI are entitled to considerable respect. [return to text]
20. HEW administers at least two explicitly race-conscious programs. Details concerning them may be found in the Office of Management and Budget, 1977 Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance 205-206, 401-402. The first program, No. 13.375, "Minority Biomedical Support," has as its objectives:
Eligibility for grants under this program is limited to (1) four-year colleges, universities, and health professional schools with over 50% minority enrollments; (2) four-year institutions with significant but not necessarily over 50% minority enrollment provided they have a history of encouragement and assistance to minorities; (3) two-year colleges with 50% minority enrollment; and (4) American Indian Tribal Councils. Grants made pursuant to this program are estimated to total $ 9,711,000 for 1977.
The second program, No. 13.880, entitled "Minority Access To Research Careers," has as its objective to "assist minority institutions to train greater numbers of scientists and teachers in health related fields." Grants under this program are made directly to individuals and to institutions for the purpose of enabling them to make grants to individuals. [return to text]
21. H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 95-538, p. 22 (1977); 123 Cong. Rec. 26188 (1977). See H. J. Res. 662, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. (1977); Pub. L. 95-205, 91 Stat. 1460. [return to text]
22. 91 Stat. 117, 42 U. S. C. § 6705 (f)(2) (1976 ed.). [return to text]
23. 123 Cong. Rec. 7156 (1977); id., at 5327-5330. [return to text]
24. See id., at 7156 (1977) (Sen. Brooke). [return to text]
25. In addition to the enactment of the 10% quota provision discussed supra, Congress has also passed other Acts mandating race-conscious measures to overcome disadvantages experienced by racial minorities. Although these statutes have less direct bearing upon the meaning of Title VI, they do demonstrate that Congress believes race-conscious remedial measures to be both permissible and desirable under at least some circumstances. This in turn undercuts the likelihood that Congress intended to limit voluntary efforts to implement similar measures. For example, § 7 (a) of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act, 1977, provides:
Perhaps more importantly, the Act also authorizes the funding of Minority Centers for Graduate Education. Section 7 (c)(2) of the Act, 90 Stat. 2056, requires that these Centers:
Once again, there is no indication in the legislative history of this Act or elsewhere that Congress saw any inconsistency between the race-conscious nature of such legislation and the meaning of Title VI. And, once again, it is unlikely in the extreme that a Congress which believed that it had commanded recipients of federal funds to be absolutely colorblind would itself expend federal funds in such a race-conscious manner. See also the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, 45 U. S. C. § 801 et seq. (1976 ed.), 49 U. S. C. § 1657a et seq. (1976 ed.); the Emergency School Aid Act, 20 U. S. C. § 1601 et seq. (1976 ed.). [return to text]
26. Cf. Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971).[return to text]
27. Ibid.; Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405 (1975). [return to text]
28. Franks v. Bowman Transportation Co., 424 U.S. 747 (1976); Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324 (1977). Executive, judicial, and congressional action subsequent to the passage of Title VII conclusively established that the Title did not bar the remedial use of race. Prior to the 1972 amendments to Title VII (Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, 86 Stat. 103) a number of Courts of Appeals approved race-conscious action to remedy the effects of employment discrimination. See, e. g., Heat & Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers v. Vogler, 407 F.2d 1047 (CA5 1969); United States v. Electrical Workers, 428 F.2d 144, 149-150 (CA6), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 943 (1970); United States v. Sheetmetal Workers, 416 F.2d 123 (CA8 1969). In 1965, the President issued Exec. Order No. 11246, 3 CFR 339 (1964-1965 Comp.), which as amended by Exec. Order No. 11375, 3 CFR 684 (1966-1970 Comp.), required federal contractors to take affirmative action to remedy the disproportionately low employment of racial minorities in the construction industry. The Attorney General issued an opinion concluding that the race consciousness required by Exec. Order No. 11246 did not conflict with Title VII:
The federal courts agreed. See, e. g., Contractors Assn. of Eastern Pa. v. Secretary of Labor, 442 F.2d 159 (CA3), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 854 (1971) (which also held, 442 F.2d, at 173, that race-conscious affirmative action was permissible under Title VI); Southern Illinois Builders Assn. v. Ogilvie, 471 F.2d 680 (CA7 1972). Moreover, Congress, in enacting the 1972 amendments to Title VII, explicitly considered and rejected proposals to alter Exec. Order No. 11246 and the prevailing judicial interpretations of Title VII as permitting, and in some circumstances requiring, race-conscious action. See Comment, The Philadelphia Plan: A Study in the Dynamics of Executive Power, 39 U. Chi. L. Rev. 723, 747-757 (1972). The section-by-section analysis of the 1972 amendments to Title VII undertaken by the Conference Committee Report on H. R. 1746 reveals a resolve to accept the then (as now) prevailing judicial interpretations of the scope of Title VII:
29. United Jewish Organizations v. Carey, 430 U.S. 144 (1977). See also id., at 167-168 (opinion of WHITE, J.). [return to text]