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California Minority Set-Aside Requirements Set Aside
Description California requires state contractors to set aside specified percentages of the value of state contracts for certain groups. Contractor who failed to obtain a state contract, despite being the low bidder, challenged the statute. Ninth Circuit struck down the statute as in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Affirmative Action, Equal Protection, Minority Set Aside
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The State of California requires contractors bidding on state contracts to subcontract percentages of state contract work to minority, women, and disabled veteran owned business enterprises (M/W/DVBEs), or demonstrate good faith efforts to do so. In one state contract, the low bid contractor was not declared qualified, the contract was awarded to a higher bidder who was in compliance with M/W/DVBE standards. The low bid contractor sued the state, claiming the rules violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The contractor requested declaratory judgment, injunction, and damages.
District Court Decisions Motion denied. The low bid contractor does not have standing; the purpose of the law relates to M/W/DVBEs, only such firms would have standing. The contractor appealed.
Court of Appeals Decision Reversed and remanded. "A person suffers injury in fact if the government requires or encourages as a condition of granting him a benefit that he discriminate against others based on their race or sex." The statute has mandatory requirements for specific groups. For such classifications to survive strict scrutiny, "it must be a narrowly tailored remedy for past discrimination, active or passive, by the governmental entity making the classification." The California program fails to do that. It was not based on detailed findings of discrimination and the requirements are not narrowly tailored. The statute violates the Equal Protection Clause.
Citation Monterey Mechanical Co. v. Wilson, F.3d--- (1997 WL 538757, 9th Cir.)
125 F. 3d 702 (9th Cir., 1997)

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