Cook County, IL; December 21, 2022: A federal lawsuit was filed today challenging Cook County, Illinois’ unlawful use of racial preferences in its Source Grow Grant program to distribute government pandemic assistance for small businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a brutal blow to small business owners nationwide. Cook County will soon implement its Source Grow Grant program, providing $10,000 in grants to struggling small businesses. The eligibility requirements are simple: Own a for-profit company that opened before 2020, suffered revenue losses or increased costs during the pandemic, and employs fewer than 20 full-time employees. One more thing: The grant requires all applicants to identify their race and will distribute the limited number of grants, in part, on the basis of racial preferences for “persons of color.”

“It is wrong for the government to grant preferential treatment based on race,” said Andrew Quinio, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The government is attempting to pick winners and losers based on race, in utter disregard for the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment protects individuals from discrimination due to arbitrary classifications like race.”

The case is Cusano v. Cook County, et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 14 victories out of 16 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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