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City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989)

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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT

No. 87-998.

Argued October 5, 1988

Decided January 23, 1989

Appellant city adopted a Minority Business Utilization Plan (Plan) requiring prime contractors awarded city construction contracts to subcontract at least 30% of the dollar amount of each contract to one or more Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), which the Plan defined to include a business from anywhere in the country at least 51% of which is owned and controlled by black, Spanish-speaking, Oriental, Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut citizens. Although the Plan declared that it was remedial in nature, it was adopted after a public hearing at which no direct evidence was presented that the city had discriminated on the basis of race in letting contracts or that its prime contractors had discriminated against minority subcontractors. The evidence that was introduced included: a statistical study indicating that, although the citys population was 50% black, only 0.67% of its prime construction contracts had been awarded to minority businesses in recent years; figures establishing that a variety of local contractors associations had virtually no MBE members; the citys counsels conclusion that the Plan was constitutional under Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 ; and the statements of Plan proponents indicating that there had been widespread racial discrimination in the local, state, and national construction industries. Pursuant to the Plan, the city adopted rules requiring individualized consideration of each bid or request for a waiver of the 30% set-aside, and providing that a waiver could be granted only upon proof that sufficient qualified MBEs were unavailable or unwilling to participate. After appellee construction company, the sole bidder on a city contract, was denied a waiver and lost its contract, it brought suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the Plan was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendments Equal Protection Clause. The Federal District

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