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State Law Giving Preference to Minority Bidders on Contracts Violates Equal Protection Clause
Description Appeals court affirmed that an Ohio statute granting preference to bidders on public construction contracts based on race or ethnicity, serves no compelling state interest and fails the strict construction test that such preferences not violate the equal protection cause of the Constitution.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Equal Protection; Racial Preferences; Minority Contracts
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A contractors association sued to stop awarding public construction contracts that gave racial and ethnic preferences to bidders. They contended that the practice violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The trial court agreed and struck down the state statute. The state of Ohio appealed.
Decision Affirmed. A strict scrutiny standard under the equal protection clause requires preferential programs based on racial or ethnic criteria to be narrowly tailored to satisfy a compelling governmental interest. The government has a compelling interest in assuring that public dollars do not serve to finance private prejudice, but the state cannot rely on mere speculation about discrimination. The state has shown no compelling interest and the fact that minority-owned businesses win fewer bids for contracts than do other businesses is insufficient to show that remedial action was necessary to remedy past discrimination.
Citation Associated General Contractors of Ohio, Inc. v. Drabik, 214 F.3d 730 (6th Cir., 2000)

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