Striking a serious blow to government-sanctioned race and gender preferences championed by President Joe Biden and his Democrat colleagues, a federal appeals court last week invalidated a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act that granted favorable treatment to minority-owned enterprises in allocating financial aid monies, as the Daily Wire reports.
In the case at issue, restaurant owner Antonio Vitolo of Harriman, Tennessee filed suit against the federal government over the racial and gender preferences included in the $29 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program designed to help businesses recoup pandemic-related losses.
The provision that was under review by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals afforded favored status to restaurants with 51% ownership by someone of a specific ethnic or racial group as defined in the law, or by women.
The effect of those criteria, it was argued, was to relegate hard-hit business owners who happened to be white men or members of ethnicities not explicitly delineated in the program to the back of the line for assistance, something which violated the equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
Vitolo explained his position in a press release, as the Daily Wire noted, stating, “I do not want special treatment. I just want to be treated equally under the law. I am opposed to race and sex discrimination, and I would hope my government lived up to the same principle.”
The capricious nature of the criteria for receiving priority grant consideration was highlighted by the fact that Vitolo owns a 50% stake in his restaurant, and his wife – who is Hispanic – owns the other 50%. Had his wife held 51% interest in the business, they would have been eligible for the program, but because they hold equal shares, and he is a white man, they were disqualified from participation.
Though a lower court denied the couple’s earlier request for race-blind consideration of their grant application, the appellate review concluded in their favor, with the panel ordering the federal government to cease using “unconstitutional criteria” in assessing their candidacy for funds.
In authoring the opinion in support of the ruling, Judge Amul Thapar – notably the first South Asian judge ever to claim a seat on the federal bench – declared, “This case is about whether the government can allocate limited coronavirus relief funds based on the race and sex of the applicants. We hold that it cannot.” He also blasted the administration for arbitrarily using a “scattershot approach” in defining which groups are rightly designated as “socially and economically disadvantaged,” adding:
Individuals who trace their ancestry to Pakistan and India qualify for special treatment. But those from Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq do not. Those from China, Japan, and Hong Kong all qualify. But those from Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco do not.
The nearly total party-line vote that brought these unconstitutional provisions into existence regrettably highlights the Democrats’ unrelenting desire to use identity politics and illegal preferences to further factionalize the electorate and, in effect, perpetuate the very brand of racism they claim to abhor.