According to a Harris poll, 64% of whites, 63% of blacks, and 70% of Asians whose children have been bused say that the experience has been "very satisfactory." Only 4% of blacks, 6% of whites, and 2% of Asians say the experience has been "unsatisfactory."

Between 1989 and 1999, twenty-two challenges to school financing schemes are brought under state constitutional provisions that promise educational adequacy, in contrast to the equity challenges brought in the 1970s and 80s. Eleven state supreme courts invalidate financing schemes as inadequate and order state legislatures or school boards to craft new financing schemes includes: Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont. Eleven other states reject the challenges: Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson, 488 U.S. 469 (1989), the Supreme Court holds 5-4 that state and local affirmative action plans are subject to the same strict scrutiny as deliberate discrimination against racial minorities. In effect, this makes racial affirmative action presumptively unconstitutional. The Court strikes down the City of Richmond's plan to award minority owned businesses a certain percentage of construction contracts to help remedy the effects of past discrimination in the industry. The Court holds that remedying past societal discrimination cannot be a constitutional justification for affirmative action.

In Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Antonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989), the Supreme Court makes it more difficult for plaintiffs to win employment discrimination suits. The case generates an outcry to amend Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to overturn the decision, and Congress passes a 1990 Civil Rights Act. President Bush vetoes the bill, declaring it a "quota bill." During the furor over the Clarence Thomas nomination in 1991, the Act is passed again, and Bush signs it into law.