I am late to this, but it’s significant enough to post about even a few days late.
A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a conservative legal group that sought to stop President Joe Biden’s administration from giving priority status for COVID-19 relief to restaurants and bars owned by women and certain minorities.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Appeals Court issued a 2-1 opinion Thursday that said the government cannot allocate limited coronavirus relief funds based on race and sex. It issued an order for the government to stop using the criteria when processing an application from Antonio Vitolo, an East Tennessee restaurant owner.
The lawsuit was brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on behalf of Vitolo, who owns Jake’s Bar and Grill in Harriman, Tennessee. The suit targets the three-week period from May 3 until May 24 during which the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund has been processing and funding requests only from businesses owned by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
The Sixth Circuit’s opinion, which you can read here, puts the issue more directly and (I think) appropriately:
This case is about whether the government can allocate limited coronavirus relief funds based on the race and sex of the applicants. We hold that it cannot.
The opinion notes that the Government can point to no specific incidents of past discrimination that are being remedied by the law. Nor could the Government show much in the way of evidence of intentional discrimination against these groups — other than by presenting a handful of statistics that are dependent on so many different variables that there is no way to draw an inference of intentional discrimination from the examples given. Nor can the Government show that it was involved in such discrimination itself. Meanwhile, to the extent that policymakers were worried that women or minorities lacked access to credit, or had been deprived of the benefits of previous coronavirus relief packages, policymakers could have targeted relief to people who suffered from such maladies (poor credit or lack of benefit from previous programs) regardless of race.
That Biden tried to do this is shameful, and a perfect example of the race pandering that is one of his worst habits. But it’s not just Biden who is to blame. The opinion points to a regulation that appears to date back to 1998, during Bill Clinton’s presidency, under which the Small Business Administration “presumes certain applicants are socially disadvantaged based solely on their race or ethnicity.” And Congress passed the law knowing about that regulation. There is more broken here than a single president.
This kind of thinking is wrong. I’m glad a court recognized it.