A federal appeals court struck down racist provisions in President Joe Biden’s partisan $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending package that designated billions of priority financial aid to restaurants largely owned by minorities.
In the 2-1 ruling issued on Thursday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that showing favoritism to small restaurants at least “51 percent owned and controlled by women, veterans, or the ‘socially and economically disadvantaged” is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause which prohibits states from making or enforcing laws that “abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
In the majority opinion, Judge Amul Thapar expressed concerns that the 21-day period slapped on the limited Small Business Administration money distribution did not offer equal opportunity to those hurt by government-mandated lockdowns including the plaintiff, Jake’s Bar and Grill which is owned by Antonio Vitolo, and his wife, who is Hispanic but did not qualify for the financial handout.
“The Small Business Administration has injected explicit racial and ethnic preferences into the priority process,” Thapar wrote. “Under a regulation that predates the pandemic, the agency presumes certain applicants are socially disadvantaged based solely on their race or ethnicity…If you are in one of these groups, the Small Business Administration assumes you qualify as socially disadvantaged. Indeed, the only way not to qualify is if someone comes forward ‘with credible evidence to the contrary.”
While the dissenting judge Bernice Donald, claimed that the government is allowed to use “racebased classifications to remediate past discrimination,” Thapar also noted that “the schedule of racial preferences detailed in the government’s regulation—preferences for Pakistanis but not Afghans; Japanese but not Iraqis; Hispanics but not Middle Easterners—is not supported by any record evidence at all.”