The purpose of strict scrutiny is to smoke out illegitimate uses of race by assuring that the legislative body is pursuing a goal important enough to warrant use of a highly suspect tool. The test also ensures that the means chosen fit this compelling goal so closely that there is little or no possibility that the motive for the classification was illegitimate racial prejudice or stereotype.
Appellant city council adopted a plan that required prime contractors to whom the city awarded construction contracts to subcontract at least 30 percent of the dollar amount of the contract to one or more Minority Business Enterprises. The purpose of the plan was to promote wider participation by minority business enterprises in the construction of public projects. Appellee contractor brought an action under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutional on its face. The appellate court found the ordinance to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed that decision.
Was the contested statute violative of the Equal Protection Clause?
Appellant city failed to identify the need for remedial action in the awarding of its public construction contracts and failed to demonstrate a compelling governmental interest in apportioning public contracting opportunities on the basis of race or that its remedy had been narrowly tailored to the achievement of that interest. The Court found the ordinance to be unconstitutional.Its treatment of its citizens on a racial basis violated the Equal Protection Clause.