Thursday, November 14, 2013

Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. case brief

Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. case brief summary
488 U.S. 469 (1989)

Appellant city challenged the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which reversed a trial court decision that struck down a minority set-aside program based on a city ordinance upon the grounds that it violated both prongs of strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Appellant city council adopted a plan that required prime contractors to whom the city awarded construction contracts to subcontract at least 30 percent of the dollar amount of the contract to one or more Minority Business Enterprises. The purpose of the plan was to promote wider participation by minority business enterprises in the construction of public projects. Appellee contractor brought an action under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutional on its face. The appellate court found the ordinance to be unconstitutional.


  • The Court affirmed that decision. 
  • Applying the two prongs of the strict scrutiny standard, the Court found that the evidence did not point to any identified discrimination in the construction industry. 
  • Appellant had failed to demonstrate a compelling governmental interest in apportioning public contracting opportunities on the basis of race or that its remedy had been narrowly tailored to the achievement of that interest. 
  • The Court found the ordinance to be unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's decision, holding that because appellant city failed to identify the need for remedial action in the awarding of its public construction contracts, its treatment of its citizens on a racial basis violated the Equal Protection Clause.

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