Multi-billion-dollar federal affirmative action program must end once and for all
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has 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.
The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Dan Lennington, stated, “It’s time for discrimination to end. Our clients are hardworking small business owners who just want to build roads and make America a great place for everyone. But time and time again, they lose out on business because of their race and gender. This is un-American, and we’re putting a stop to it.”
WILL Client, James Hughes, chairman of the board of MAMCO, stated, “All we are asking for is equal treatment under the law. The government treats our company differently because of race and gender. We’re asking the Biden Administration to dismantle this discriminatory program and embrace the right of equality for all.”
WILL Client, Greg Bagshaw of Bagshaw Trucking Inc., stated, “The American Dream belongs to everyone. Joe Biden’s discriminatory policies are blocking this dream and hurting the hardworking employee-owners of Bagshaw Trucking, who are men and women from all races.”
The Clients: MAMCO is a milling company headquartered in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and part of Hughes Group, Inc., which is a premier heavy highway and bridge preservation company. Founded over 80 years ago, four generations of the Hughes family have guided and expanded the company into a market that stretches over 30 states in any given year.
Bagshaw Trucking Inc. is a hauling company headquartered in Memphis, Indiana. Founded in 1982 with two dump trucks and two employees, Bagshaw now boasts one of the largest truck fleets in northern Kentucky and southern Indiana. Bagshaw works on all types of projects, including major interstate construction and restoration, airport projects, bridge repairs, industrial parks, and subdivision developments.
Greg Bagshaw of Bagshaw Trucking Inc.
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.”
This is WILL’s 11th lawsuit against the Biden Administration and part of WILL’s nationwide Equality Under the Law Project. Since 2021, the EUL project has represented over 50 clients in 18 states, obtained multiple injunctions against the Biden Administration, and achieved strategic victories at all levels of government promoting a colorblind society.