The Lawsuit: WILL filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s “disadvantaged business enterprise” (DBE) program, alleging illegal discrimination against two clients—Mid-America Milling Company LLC (MAMCO) and Bagshaw Trucking Inc. The federal DBE program is the largest, and perhaps oldest, affirmative action program in U.S. history. It is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In June 2023, the United States Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action is almost always illegal. Through its Equality Under the Law Project, WILL seeks to extend the foundational right of equality to all corners of civil society.
About DBE: The federal DBE program is an affirmative action program that gives preference to certain companies based on race and gender. Through this program, the federal government finances the American transportation system, including highway construction, with a series of race and gender quotas they call “goals.”
In practice, the DBE’s “goals” amount to discriminatory barriers, preventing many construction companies, like WILL’s Plaintiffs, from competing for contracts on an equal footing with firms owned by women and certain racial minorities. Because the DBE program violates the Constitution’s promise of equal treatment, it must be permanently dismantled.
The DBE program was most recently reauthorized in November 2021 when President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Congress mandated that 10% of all new surface transportation funding—over $37 billion—“shall be expended through small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”