Case Name: Bruckner v. Biden
Type of Case: Equality Under the Law
Court: United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
Filed On: July 13, 2022
Current Status: The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
FLORIDA SMALL-BUSINESS OWNER SUES BIDEN ADMIN. OVER RACE AND GENDER QUOTAS IN BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE LAW
July 13, 2022 | Florida small-business owner, Christian Bruckner, filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden Administration challenging unconstitutional race and gender quotas in the new $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law.
The Lawsuit: Florida small-business owner, Christian Bruckner, filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden Administration today challenging unconstitutional race and gender quotas in the new $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law”), signed by President Biden in November 2021, contains $37 billion in new spending reserved exclusively for small businesses owned by certain minorities and women.
The Equality Under the Law Project, an initiative of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), filed the lawsuit on behalf of Bruckner, challenging the infrastructure law’s race and gender quotas for violating the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Background: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November 2021, appropriated $1.2 trillion for new infrastructure projects. As part of this law, Congress authorized $370 billion in spending for roads, bridges, and other transportation projects. But the law contains a quota, requiring that at least 10% of all funding ($37 billion) go to small businesses owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”
Federal regulations define “socially disadvantaged” as the following racial or ethnic groups: Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, or Subcontinent Asian Americans. And women are deemed “socially and economically disadvantaged.” Small businesses owned by males who are not in these preferred racial groups cannot compete for this money. This would include not only businesses owned by white males, but also males whose ancestors are from many countries in Central and South America, North Africa, the Middle East, and North and West Asia.
The United States Constitution forbids the government from engaging in race and gender discrimination. If the government engages in race discrimination, then it is subject to “strict scrutiny,” meaning the government has the burden of proving that racial classifications are narrowly tailored measures that further compelling governmental interests. With gender discrimination, the government must provide an “extremely persuasive” justification and prove that the “the discriminatory means employed are substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.”
WILL’s lawsuit contends that the racial classifications in the infrastructure law are unconstitutional because they violate the Equal Protection guarantees in the United States Constitution. The racial classifications are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest. Similarly, the gender-based classifications are also unconstitutional and are not supported by an exceedingly persuasive objective, and the discriminatory means employed are not substantially related to the achievement of that objective.
The lawsuit urges the court to enter a preliminary injunction, a declaratory judgment that the race- and gender-based classifications in the infrastructure law are unconstitutional, a permanent injunction against the federal government from applying the race- and gender-based classifications in the infrastructure law, and the awarding of attorneys fees.
WILL’s Client: Christian Bruckner is an immigrant and disabled small-business owner from Tampa, Florida. His parents fled communist Romania in the 1970s and he was seriously injured in a car accident in 1989. He owns Project Management Corporation, a small business that fulfills government contracts, including those available under the recently passed infrastructure law. By virtue of his race (despite being a Romanian immigrant, he does not qualify) and his gender (men do not qualify), Bruckner is unable to compete for $37 billion in infrastructure contracts.
Current Status: The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on July 13, 2022.
President and General Counsel
- Bruckner v. Biden Complaint, July 13, 2022