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Section 8(a) of Small Business Act Favoring Small, Disadvantaged Businesses Upheld Under Equal Protection Clause

Date: December 14, 2016  /  Author: Matt T. Paxton  /  Categories: MBE/DBE/WBE, Out of the Ordinary, Contracting, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves  /  Keywords: Disadvantaged Businesses Upheld Under Equal Protection Clause, 1 Section 8(a) of Small Business Act Favoring Small 2  /  Comments (0)

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that public bodies and institutions treat similarly-situated individuals in a similar manner.  The government, therefore, cannot apply a law dissimilarly to people who are similarly situated.  For example, in the mid-1970s, the Medical School of the University of California Davis (a public university) reserved 16 of 100 spaces in its class for “disadvantaged” students.[i]  In the seminal case of Regents of Univ. of California v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial preference was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause because an applicant’s race was an explicit factor in determining disadvantage.  In other contexts, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has found that “mere awareness of race in attempting to solve the problems facing [minority groups] does not doom that endeavor at the outset.”[ii]