On this day we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This holiday commemorates Dr. King’s remarkable struggles to combat racial inequality through nonviolence. My blog post from two years ago highlights his belief in American Personalism. Regrettably, the government’s continued use of racial preferences undermines the dream of a society, as advocated by Dr. King, in which skin color is irrelevant.
An example of such preferences can be seen where states implement race-based “affirmative action” contracting programs that pressure general contractors to discriminate against subcontractors on the basis of race. This article I co-authored with Roger Clegg, of Center for Equal Opportunity, featured today in the National Review Online, describes how one such program is unconstitutional. The article describes a case from Illinois in the Seventh Circuit, Midwest Fence v. United States Department of Transportation.
Public contracting programs that grant racial preferences sideswipe the important principle of equal opportunity by using race, not lowest cost by a responsible bidder, to decide who gets government road and highway contracts. And in today’s multi-racial society, programs sometimes pit minority versus minority.
Race-based contracting programs are the result of government’s twin untenable assumptions that statistical disparities alone can prove discrimination, and that only racial preferences can remedy disparities. These assumptions are false.