A federal appellate court held Tuesday that Caltrans' Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program passes constitutional muster because there is strong "evidence of discrimination within the California transportation contracting industry" and the program is "narrowly tailored to benefit only those groups that actually suffered discrimination."
Associated General Contractors of America challenged the program as unconstitutional in Sacramento federal court, but U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez upheld the constitutionality of the program and entered judgment in favor of the California Department of Transportation and its officers.
The contractors claimed the program, begun in 2009, unlawfully provides race-and-sex-based preferences on certain contracts to firms owned by African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans and women.
Not so, said Mendez, holding that the agency's statistical and anecdotal evidence shows the four groups are subjected to discrimination in the transportation construction industry and the program benefits only those groups.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal because the contractors' association "did not identify any of its members who have suffered or will suffer harm....and therefore (the association) has not established that it has ... standing to bring suit."