Can counties discriminate based on sex and race?
Because that’s exactly what Missoula County decided to to:
“After months of talk and revision, Missoula County has implemented a new resolution giving automatic preference to minority- and women-owned businesses when they complete [sic] for county contracts.
Under the new resolution, the county will award a 5% reduction in its bid or quote to a registered businesses [sic] for all procurement that goes through the vendor selection process. Such bids are typically chosen only on pricing.”
A couple years later, the City Council decided that they would institute new gun laws, laws more forceful than the state had in place.
That was clearly unconstitutional, the courts said so, and Missoula had to backtrack.
I’m confident that Missoula will once again have to backtrack on this latest policy. You’d think that “after months of talk and revision,” someone would have come to the obvious conclusion: discriminating based on sex and race is against the law. Alas, the Arizona firm the county hired to make the county more woke suggested this idea.
Back in 1964 we passed the Civil Rights Act and Title VI said you can’t discriminate based on race, if federal dollars are in play.
Would that apply to Missoula?
I think it will, for the main reason that the county’s “new resolution gives local businesses that are registered with MDT as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise a 5% boost when competing for a procurement contract, or when bidding a project.”
How much of MDT’s budget comes from the federal government, hence federal dollars? Quite a lot, for we in no way could maintain our interstate system if we didn’t get those federal dollars.
Will the courts agree when this inevitably makes its way to them?
Several years ago in Portland, we had the case Virdi v. Dekalb County School District:
“One such case involved Paramitjit Virdi, an architect who placed a bid to fulfill a contract for the Dekalb County Board of Education. Unfortunately for Mr. Virdi, the DeKalb County Board of Education maintained the mildly-named “Minority Vendor Involvement Program.” The program’s stated goal was to “provide increased opportunities for blacks, women, and other minorities to engage in business activities with the school system.” In practice, the minority participation preferences were used as quotas in awarding contracts. Under the program, contracts were not awarded to the lowest bidder. Instead, the program looked first to the minority participation goals and ensured minority vendors were awarded contracts in numbers that exceeded the stated goals on an annual basis.”
“On June 13, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit declared that the DeKalb County School District’s Minority Vendor Involvement Program was unconstitutional because it discriminated against vendors based on race, and favored African-American contractors and applicants.
In a strongly worded opinion, the Court struck down the program as unconstitutional on its face because it created clear racial classifications, and was not narrowly tailored to act as a remedy of some defined past act of discrimination as required by law. The Court rejected the School Board’s argument that there was a compelling remedial interest that supported this type of race-based preference program, finding that “no evidence that the DeKalb District considered any race-neutral alternative means of tracing its activities to avoid unwitting discrimination.”
It is the well-established law of the land that the government cannot discriminate against citizens based on immutable characteristics such as race and sex.”
I’m not a lawyer, but when I see a headline saying that “Missoula County to give 5% preference to minority, women-owned businesses,” it’s clear to me right away that this is against the law.
Why can’t the high-priced lawyers on the county’s payroll come to the same conclusion?
I think they have, but they hope they can float this through. Sadly, it’s just going to waste a lot of time and money as it finds its way into the courts, where this policy will ultimately be overturned.
Perhaps worse than being illegal, this policy is morally wrong. Imagine if Missoula announced they’d be giving preferential treatment to white men. How long do you think before the lawsuits came rolling in, the media backlash got started?
But giving preferential treatment to women and blacks is alright? What accounts for this double standard? I think the answer is obvious - wokeism.
Missoula has made idiotic policy choices in the past, only to walk them back with their tail between their legs.
And that’s exactly what’s going to happen with this latest debacle.