Federal Judge's Ruling Is a Blow to Affirmative Action

He orders Minority Business Development Agency to stop considering race of applicants
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2024 2:49 PM CST
Federal Judge's Ruling Is a Blow to Affirmative Action
The agency says its programs offer "customized business development and industry-focused services to provide greater access to capital, contracts and markets."   (Getty Images/ipopba)

A federal judge has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the federal Minority Business Development Agency to focus on developing businesses owned by minorities. In another blow to affirmative action, US District Court Judge Mark T. Pittman permanently banned the agency from "considering or using an applicant's race or ethnicity" when determining whether they can be assisted by one of its dozens of business centers, CNN reports. The judge, a Trump appointee in the Northern District of Texas, sided with a group of white business owners who said they had been discriminated against, reports the Washington Post.

Pittman said the MBDA, which has been operating for 55 years, had violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution with a presumption that racial minorities are "socially or economically disadvantaged." "If courts mean what they say when they ascribe supreme importance to constitutional rights, the federal government may not flagrantly violate such rights with impunity," he wrote. "The MBDA has done so for years. Time's up."

The MBDA was created as the Office of Minority Business Enterprise, a division of the Commerce Department, under Richard Nixon in 1969. According to its website, it assists business including those owned by "African Americans, Asian Americans, Hasidic Jews, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders." In his decision, Pittman wrote that "to the extent the MBDA offers services pursuant to an unconstitutional presumption, that's fifty-five years too many." (More affirmative action stories.)

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