Judge Rules Federal Minority-Owned Business Agency Must Serve All Businesses

A federal judge in Texas has ordered that a decades-old government agency aimed at helping minority-owned businesses must also help white applicants.

District Judge Mark Pittman, appointed by President Trump, ruled Wednesday in favor of a group of business owners who sued the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, first established by President Nixon, saying it gives preferential treatment to non-white business owners.

“The Agency presumes anyone from the listed groups is ‘socially or economically disadvantaged’ and is thus entitled to services,” Judge Pittman wrote. “Anyone outside those groups — white or otherwise — is presumptively not disadvantaged and thus not entitled to benefits.”

The agency was specifically tasked with assisting people from historically and contemporarily marginalized groups such as African Americans, Asian Americans, Hasidic Jews, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

While Judge Pittman wrote in his ruling that minorities sometimes have limited access to loans and receive less beneficial terms when they did receive loans, he wrote that “the record does not show government participation contributed to such disparities.”

“While the agency’s work may help alleviate opportunity gaps faced by (minority business entrepreneurs), two wrongs do not make a right,” Judge Pittman wrote. “And the MBDA’s racial presumption is a wrong.”

Attorneys defending the agency argued unsuccessfully that because the government has sanctioned acts of discrimination it has a role to play in rectifying the effects of that discrimination.

The Texas plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from a conservative legal group, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which applauded Judge Pittman’s ruling.

“The federal government created a discriminatory agency that persisted for decades. The Biden Administration re-invigorated it and then refused to help millions of businesses based on race. Those days are now over,” the group’s president, Rick Esenberg said in a statement.

The president of the National Minority Business Council, John Robinson, said in a statement to ABC News that the ruling was “a blow against minority owned businesses.”

“It has the potential of damaging the whole minority business sector because there will be less service available to minority-owned businesses,” Mr. Robinson said.

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