Alameda County Sued Over Alleged Racial Quotas in Public Contracting

By Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.
July 27, 2022 Updated: July 27, 2022

A California-based civil rights group sued Alameda County on July 25 for policies that allegedly grant racial preferences in government contracting.

Californians for Equal Rights Foundation and two individual co-plaintiffs, represented by the nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation, filed the lawsuit in the Superior Court challenging two Alameda County public contracting programs that impose race-based preferences for minority-owned enterprises (pdf).

“Racial quotas in public contracting, just as racial quotas elsewhere, are wrong and unconstitutional,” Wen Fa, senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, said in a July 25 statement. “The government should not be depriving opportunities for small businesses engaged in public contracting—and the Alameda County public contracting programs are particularly pernicious because they deprive opportunities based on race.”

The Alameda County Public Works Agency’s Construction Compliance Program and the General Services Agency’s Enhanced Construction Outreach Program both allegedly impose a 15 percent “participation goal,” for minority-owned businesses on county construction projects, according to Californians for Equal Rights.

“[This] force[s] general contractors to discriminate against subcontractors, and in many cases they work to exclude subcontractors in certain fields from obtaining jobs just because they are not minority-owned,” reads a statement by Californians for Equal Rights.

An Alameda County spokesperson told The Epoch Times the county was advised by legal counsel not to comment on the case.

The foundation’s leaders claim both programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and California’s constitutional ban on racial preferences.

“Government favors on racial grounds have a pernicious past and do not belong in the 21st century,” said Gail Heriot, the foundation’s executive vice president.

Chunhua Liao, a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement that “no public agency should expend taxpayers’ money to hand out race-preferential construction contracts.”

“The government should not be picking winners and losers on the basis of race or color,” Liao said.

Brad Jones
Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.