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The Adarand Chronicle:  From Bakke to Adarand VII

by Robert Antonio

May 29, 2001



"It is ultimately our considered judgment that the SCC program and the DBE certification programs as currently structured, though not as they were structured in 1997 when the district court last rendered judgment, pass constitutional muster: They are narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest." 1


On September 25, 2000, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued the above judgment in Adarand Constructors, Inc v Rodney E. Slater, Secretary of Transportation, No. 971304v2 - September 25, 2000. 

To a follower of Supreme Court decisions dealing with race- or ethnic-based classifications the quote is meaningful.  However, most people will view it as legal gibberish.  This article gives meaning to that quote.

In Adarand, we are dealing with a grant program that includes a subcontracting and incentive program.  Adarand also affects contracting and subcontracting programs of the federal Small Business Administration.  Although Adarand involves grants and contracts, the Supreme Court decisions that directly support Adarand involve student body diversity, collective bargaining, grant and subcontracting programs, and radio and television broadcast diversity.  

The Adarand Chronicle begins with a 1978 landmark affirmative action decision with a proposal by Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun and moves to 1995 when Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas add their imprint.  Today, we await a further act in this play.   

How To Read This Article

This is a complex article dealing with a complex issue.  To understand the Main Article, it is highly  recommended that your first read Amendments 5 and 14.  Since the cases involve the process the Supreme Court uses to review equal protection cases, it is recommended that you next read the  Standards of Scrutiny.  With the amendments and standards of scrutiny out of the way, you are ready for the Main Article.  

The Main Article is supported by background information and outlines of all seven Adarand decisions in Adarand Decisions.  The Supreme Court cases that support the Adarand decisions are outlined in The Supporting Cases

1 SCC represents the Subcontracting Compensation Clause used on the procurement and DBE represents Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). 
Copyright 2001 by Robert M. Antonio



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