None of the major programs and activities in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare needs to be changed because of the Supreme Court's 1978 ruling in the Bakke "reverse discrimination" case, Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr. said yesterday.
In a statement, Califano said all department programs and civil rights enforcement standards have been reviewed in the light of the Bakke decision and only one program needs change: A drug-abuse internship program will be opened "not only to minority persons but also to nonminority persons who will in the future serve minority drug abusers."
In the 1978 Bakke case, the Supreme Court ruled out a special affirmative action admissions program which reserved 16 places out of a 100 for minorities at the University of California at Davis Medical School. White applicants were excluded from competing for these positions. The court said race could be a factor in a unitary admission system but not the total basis of admissions.
A legal memo from the office of general counsel of HEW said the opinion of Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. in the Bakke case appeared to allow certain practices based on race where they were necessary to overcome past discrimination.
The memo also indicated the court had left more leeway to make racial and sex distinctions where Congress had specifically authorized action to overcome the effects of previous violations of the principle of equal rights.
On the basis of these two points, the memo concluded that the following are untouched by the Bakke ruling: general regulations and practices of the Office of Civil Rights, rules on discrimination involving women and the handicapped, special programs for Indians and Alaskan natives, bilingual education, programs to help disadvantaged and minority students and the like.
"I am pleased to report that the review by the general counsel's office . . . has concluded that no changes in these important programs are required or suggested," Califano said.
The memo summarized the Bakke decision as follows: "Bakke holds that . . . a university that has not been found to have discriminated in the past may not adopt an admissions program which reserves places for minority group members" although it "may consider race in evaluating individuals in a unitary admissions system in an effort to achieve a diverse student body."