Federal Judge Rules Minority-Owned Business Discriminated Against White People

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Mar 17, 2024

A federal judge in Texas ruled that the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) discriminated against white people. Now, the agency must work to help all business owners of all races.

This latest Texas ruling comes as many conservative activists and lawyers target agencies and laws that were designed to help minorities. Many of these practices — such as what the MBDA once did — were created decades ago.

The Minority Business Development Agency

The MBDA was established in 1969 by then-President Richard Nixon. The MBDA is a part of the Commerce Department. For decades, this agency helped minority-owned businesses receive funding, as well as government contracts.

A Minority Business Development Agency meeting in the Department of Commerce with Asian American businesses in 2003.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

President Nixon created this agency as he worked to fight discrimination which was, during this time, prolific in the business world. In 2021, President Joe Biden made this agency permanent.

The Court Case

In March, three white small business owners sued the MBDA for discrimination. According to these owners, they were turned away from receiving agency help because they were white.

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“The American dream should be afforded to all Americans regardless of skin color or cultural background. But what we have is a federal government picking winners and losers based on wokeism – enough is enough,” Matthew Piper, one of the business owners, said.

The Judge’s Ruling

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas took on the case. Judge Mark T. Pittman sided with the business owners. As a result, the judge has ruled that the MBDA has discriminated against white people.

A view of tall buildings in Dallas, Texas underneath a blue sky.

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According to Pittman, the agency’s purpose to help minorities who were disadvantaged because of their race has violated the rights that all Americans are supposed to receive. Thus, the agency must now allow white business owners to receive support, as well.

Judge Pittman’s Decision

In a 93-page decision, Pittman explained his ruling. The judge stated that all Americans, regardless of their race, must receive equal protection, thanks to the Constitution.

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“If courts mean what they say when they ascribe supreme importance to constitutional rights, the federal government may not flagrantly violate such rights with impunity. The MBDA has done so for years. Time’s up,” Pittman wrote.

Conservative Activists Support Ruling

Many conservative activists and leaders have supported the ruling. Dan Lennington, an attorney with the law firm that sued the MBDA, also championed Pittman’s decision.

Work desks at an office, with modern design and computes on each desk.

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“No longer can a federal agency cater only to certain races and not others,” Lennington stated. “The MBDA is now open to all Americans.” Lennington also insinuated that “DEI’s days are numbered.”


Critics Slam Ruling

Critics of this move have slammed the ruling, explaining that the MBDA was already available to help out any minority — or any disadvantaged person.

Rows of desks and workers sitting in front of computers in a huge office workspace.

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The lawyers who argued on behalf of the Justice Department stated in court filings that the MBDA’s services were open to those who were economically or socially disadvantaged. These filings also show that they brought up evidence which shows how many groups have been at a disadvantage in the business world over the decades.


The Supreme Court’s Decision

In the summer of 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed affirmative action. They decided that race-conscious admission programs at universities throughout the country discriminated when deciding who could get into their schools.

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In their ruling, the Supreme Court stated that colleges needed to be colorblind when deciding on admissions. They cannot use race to decide whether to accept a potential student.


Conservative Groups Target Government Programs

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, many conservative activists and groups have begun to take a closer look at various government programs that were created to help minorities or those disadvantaged.

A close-up view of the pillars of the U.S. Supreme Court building.

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Many lawsuits have since been filed to say that these programs discriminate, often against whites. Conservatives have also begun to attack the idea of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).


Calls for Appeal Have Begun

Since this Texas judge’s decision, many organizations and liberal activists have called on the federal government to appeal the decision. They believe this ruling should be changed. There is a worry that more organizations in the private and public sectors could be negatively affected by this ruling in the near future.

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Marc Morial, the National Urban League president, is one person who is already urging the government to appeal.


Many Say the MBDA Is Needed

According to Morial, the MBDA is needed. Morial says there are many Americans who are locked out of the business world. The MBDA has helped these people.

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“The work of the MBDA to concentrate on the growth of businesses that remain substantially locked out of the mainstream of the American economy is needed and necessary,” Morial explained.


Confusion May Persist

Critics of this ruling — and critics of the conservative activists pushing for these changes — believe this ruling will only confuse people even more.

Two people sit at a desk in an office during a meeting.

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“We can expect right-wing activists to conflate the issue and confuse people into thinking it applies to any public or private program that fights discrimination, but that is not the case,” Alphonso David, Global Black Economic Forum CEO and president, said.