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City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co.

City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989),[1] was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that the city of Richmond's minority set-aside program, which gave preference to minority business enterprises (MBE) in the awarding of municipal contracts, was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found that the city failed to identify both the need for remedial action and that other non-discriminatory remedies would be insufficient.

City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co.
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued October 5, 1988
Decided January 23, 1989
Full case nameCity of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co.
Docket no.87-998
Citations488 U.S. 469 (more)
109 S. Ct. 706; 102 L. Ed. 2d 854; 1989 U.S. LEXIS 579
Racial quotas for awarding government contracts are not justified by general statistical evidence of inequality. The city did not investigate any race-neutral methods to correct the imbalance, nor did its 30% goal correspond to any actual measured injury. Strict scrutiny is warranted, a test which Richmond's law fails.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
Case opinions
MajorityO'Connor (Parts I, III-B, and IV), joined by Rehnquist, White, Stevens, Kennedy
PluralityO'Connor (Part II), joined by Rehnquist, White
PluralityO'Connor (Parts III-A and V), joined by Rehnquist, White, Kennedy
DissentMarshall, joined by Brennan, Blackmun
DissentBlackmun, joined by Brennan
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV

Croson involved a minority set-aside program in the awarding of municipal contracts. Richmond, Virginia, with a black population of just over 50 percent had set a 30 percent goal in the awarding of city construction contracts, based on its findings that local, state, and national patterns of discrimination had resulted in all but complete lack of access for minority-owned businesses. The Supreme Court stated:

We, therefore, hold that the city has failed to demonstrate a compelling interest in apportioning public contracting opportunities on the basis of race. To accept Richmond's claim that past societal discrimination alone can serve as the basis for rigid racial preferences would be to open the door to competing claims for "remedial relief" for every disadvantaged group. The dream of a Nation of equal citizens in a society where race is irrelevant to personal opportunity and achievement would be lost in a mosaic of shifting preferences based on inherently unmeasurable claims of past wrongs. [Citing Regents of the University of California v. Bakke]. Courts would be asked to evaluate the extent of the prejudice and consequent harm suffered by various minority groups. Those whose societal injury is thought to exceed some arbitrary level of tolerability then would be entitled to preferential classification. We think such a result would be contrary to both the letter and the spirit of a constitutional provision whose central command is equality.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989)
  2. ^ 488 U.S. at 505-06.

  This article incorporates public domain material from this U.S government document.

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