Federal judge rules minority business agency must also assist white people

Federal judge rules minority business agency must also assist white people
via Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
Michelle De Pacina
March 7, 2024
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), created 55 years ago to assist minority-owned businesses, must now provide its services to white individuals as well. 
The ruling: The decision followed a lawsuit filed by white business owners who were denied MBDA services, claiming discrimination and arguing that the agency’s policies were unconstitutional. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, found that MBDA’s presumption of inherent disadvantage for minority-owned businesses violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
About MBDA: According to its website, the MBDA, established in 1969 by the Nixon administration, is the “only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises,” including those belonging to Asians, Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans, among others. 
Services for all: The recent ruling now permanently prohibits the agency from considering race or ethnicity in determining assistance eligibility. 
“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,” Pittman wrote. “The MBDA has done so for years. Time’s up.”
Setback for affirmative action: This ruling follows the Supreme Court’s June decision against race-conscious college admissions, indicating a setback for government affirmative action programs. While the conservative law firm representing the plaintiffs sees the decision as a historic victory for equality, this is signaling a widespread legal challenge for affirmative action and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in both private and public sectors. 
Conservatives have reportedly been increasingly utilizing federal courts in Texas to challenge federal programs, with the Fort Worth division of the Northern District of Texas being a favored venue due to its conservative leaning.
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