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City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Company

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

Citation. 488 U.S. 469, 109 S. Ct. 706,102 L. Ed. 2d 854, 1989 U.S. 579.

Brief Fact Summary. Richmond, Virginia created a set-aside program which required that a percentage of subcontracts for construction projects be reserved for minorities.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Affirmative action programs can only be maintained by a showing that the programs aim is to eliminate effects of past discrimination.

Facts. In1983, the Richmond City Council, in the state of Virginia, adopted the minority Business Utilization Plan (the Plan), which required government supported construction contractors to set-aside 30% of its subcontracts to one or more Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). MBEs were defined as “[a] business at least fifty-one (51) percent of which is owned and controlled . . . by minority group members.”ť Under the Plan, “minority group members”ť were defined as “[c]itizens of the United States who are Black, Spanish-speaking, Orientals, Indians, Eskimos, or Aleuts.”ť The purpose of the Plan was to “promot[e] wider participation by minority business enterprises in the construction of public projects.”ť The Appellant, J.A. Croson Company (Appellant), challenged the Plan on the grounds that it violated the United States Constitution (Constitution) because there had been no specific finding that the Plan’s purpose was supported by past discriminatory practices in the construction indust
ry of Richmond, Virginia. The District Court upheld the Plan, but, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision holding that the set-aside program “violat[ed] both prongs of strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment . . . . ”ť The judgment of the Court of Appeals was affirmed.

Issue. Whether a state may enact an affirmative action plan without support that the “race-based measure ameliorates the effects of past discrimination on the opportunities enjoyed by members of minority groups in our society . . . .”ť
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