SCOTUS Bans Race-Based College Admissions Decisions: The Implications for MBE/DBE Contract Participation
It stands to reason that public and private sector programs for Minority Business Development will soon have a day in court.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled late last month to ban universities and colleges from using race as a factor for admissions and in their efforts to achieve student body diversity. It marked what many are calling the end of “Affirmative Action,” a term used by President John F. Kennedy to set policy to advance racial equality. In a 1961 Executive Order, Kennedy mandated federal contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color or national origin.”
The Supreme Court's recent decision sent colleges and universities across the nation scrambling to adjust their “Affirmative Action” policies and practices accordingly. And yes, they are choosing to “amend not end” their practices to achieve student body and staff diversity because, finally, America truly gets it: diversity makes good business sense; it is good for business. The rest of the business world, and government, were put on notice by this decision and started to scramble as well.
In fact, since the Supreme Court’s first sanctioning of “Reverse Discrimination” in the 1978 Bakke case, 29 Reverse Discrimination cases have been heard and decided by the high court. The entire spectrum of programs to advance racial equality has been challenged, from college admissions to employment and business development initiatives. Five of the 29 have concerned the use of race as a factor for the awarding of business contracts.
In two of the five cases, the 1989 Croson case and the 1995 Adarand case, the Supreme Court decisions presented major challenges for the minority business community. But with a lot of grit, determination and ingenuity by minority business owners, minority business development professionals, civil rights lawyers and government officials, all working together, these decisions in the end only served to strengthen policies and practices to ensure contract participation by minorities and women, in both the public and private sectors.
And so, it stands to reason that public and private sector programs for Minority Business Development will soon have a day in court, and that the constitutionality of these programs will be scrutinized and determined by this current, very conservative, very political U.S. Supreme Court.
The question now is can we muster the tenacity, the fortitude, the ideation to make these programs even stronger, so that they accord with the Supreme Court’s most recent ruling, which prohibits the use of “race” as a factor to advance “racial equality,” and expose the impudence of those who argue that this idea of racial equality discriminates against the rule of white supremacy?
And in the words of another famous president, the answer is “Oh, yes we can.”
President Joe Biden said “We cannot let this be the last word,” when asked to respond to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that bans the use of race as a specific consideration in admissions to colleges and universities. The President advised colleges and universities to not abandon their commitment to diversity and to take into account factors such as “adversity faced” and “financial need” to help achieve a diverse selection of applicants for admissions.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said "The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Affirmative Action is a travesty — reversing nearly 45 years of precedent that advances equity throughout our country's higher education institutions. The da Minority Entrepreneur has established an open forum to help galvanize the minority business community and glean ideas and comments that can serve to inspire our best response to the Supreme Court’s ruling and reshape MBE Contract Participation programs and policies in accordance. mage caused to Black communities by slavery and Jim Crow Laws, to Hispanics and Native Americans by a legacy of discrimination and oppression has not nearly been reversed."
"For centuries, students from historically underrepresented and underserved communities were locked out of higher education — preventing upward mobility and stunting economic development for generations to come. Affirmative action admissions practices were a critical step towards creating
educational environments that are representative of our diverse nation, while righting the wrongs of our past," Governor Pritzker continued. "This decision only sets us back."
The governor vowed to continue to promote inclusion and expand access through record-levels of funding for higher education institutions.