U.S. Supreme Court Ducks Affirmative Action Decision

Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter

A small Colorado guardrail contractor — Adarand — has been challenging the federal government's affirmative action efforts on highway contracting for years.

In the most recent Adarand case, the US Supreme Court was expected to decide, once and for all, whether the government can steer some of its contracts to minority-owned businesses. Adarand had challenged a practice of giving cash bonuses to prime contractors for hiring minority-owned firms. The government argued that since it had discontinued the bonus program in Colorado, there was no need to hear the appeal. Nevertheless, the US Supreme Court accepted the case.

On November 27, 2001, the U. S. Supreme Court reversed its earlier position and agreed that the appeal had been "improvidently granted." The Adarand appeal was dismissed and the construction industry will have to wait for another case to determine whether any race conscious measures are constitutional.