Case 39: Chicago and Cook County (cont'd)
(Page 3 of 3)
Lawsuits ALWAYS follow racial quotas!

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3. Lawsuits:
The Other Face of Chicago's Racial Quotas

Forward: Introduction to Chicago quotas
Racial quotas under fire in Chicago and Cook County!           In 1996 the Builders Association of Greater Chicago filed two lawsuits: one against Cook County's racial quota and set-aside programs, and one against the City of Chicago's racial quota / set-aside programs.
          Cook County, Illinois includes the City of Chicago, but up until recently both entities maintained separate racial set-aside programs.

          In response to the Builders Association lawsuit, Cook County's program was struck down outright by District Judge John F. Grady on Nov. 2, 2000.  Grady's decision was subsequently upheld on appeal by appellate Judge Richard A. Posner on July 6, 2001. 

          The details of the Cook County lawsuit and the Chicago lawsuit appear below.

Chicago Quotas Story Index:

1. Introduction
2. Corruption and Fraud - The Duffs
3. Lawsuits against City and County quotas (this page)

          Cook County thus no longer has a discriminatory, unfair racial quota program for county contractors.

          However, the City of Chicago's discriminatory racial quota program remains in full force and effect until at least June 2004 due to District Judge James B. Moran's 12/29/03 ruling.  Judge Moran stated in part that the City's program was "not narrowly tailored and could not pass consitutional scrutiny as constituted" but which quota program nonetheless might survive at a later time if the City is able to revise the program sufficiently to pass "constitutional muster". Chicago's "targets" prohibit white males from 30% of business.


          In November 2000 (Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 96 C 1121) U.S. District Court Judge John F. Grady suspended Cook County's minority set-aside program. 

          Judge Grady ruled that the County had failed to prove that systemic discrimination pervaded the area's construction industry and therefore Cook County failed to justify its racial set-aside law which reserved 30 percent of county contracts for minority-owned and woman-owned companies. Cook County quotas have been ruled illegal!

          On May 10, 2001 Cook County appealed Judge Grady's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

          On July 6, 2001 the 7th Circuit Court affirmed (upheld) Judge Grady's decision (denied the County's appeal).  Thus, Cook County's racial quotas remain suspended today.

          Appeals Court Judge Richard A. Posner's opinion upholding District Judge Grady's decision (suspending Cook County's quota program) makes for very interesting reading.  See below.

In the United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit

Builders Association of Greater Chicago,



County of Cook,



Association of Asian Construction Enterprises,
et al.,



Nos. 00-4161 and 00-4175

Appeals from the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

No. 96 C 1121--John F. Grady, Judge.

Argued May 10, 2001--Decided July 6, 2001

Selected Excerpts of the Court of Appeals Decision:

          "After a bench trial, the district court ruled that the program was unconstitutional, 123 F.Supp. 2d 1087 (N.D. Ill. 2000), and the County appeals."

          Judge Posner, writing for the majority of the three judge appeals panel, noted in this opinion "There is, to begin with, no credible evidence that Cook County in the award of construction contracts ever intentionally (or for that matter unintentionally) discriminated against any of the groups favored by the program."

          "As the district court noted, moreover, the County "conceded that [it] had no specific evidence of pre-enactment discrimination to support the ordinance." ... A public agency must have a strong evidentiary basis for thinking a discriminatory remedy [Cook County's quota program] appropriate before it adopts the remedy."

          "Nor is there any basis for attributing to the County any discrimination that prime contractors may have engaged in. ... And if the County had been complicit in discrimination by prime contractors, still it would be odd to try to remedy that discrimination by requiring discrimination in favor of minority stockholders [owners], as distinct from [minority] employees [of white-owned contractors].

          "That is a standard feature of minority set-aside programs, but a puzzling one in terms of the stated objectives of such programs." [For example, one white-owned Chicago contractor whose employees are 60% minority complained that it is excluded from the quota programs. Editor]

          "Even if the record made a case for remedial action of the general sort found in the ordinance, it would flunk the constitutional test by not being carefully designed to achieve the ostensible remedial aim and no more. ...

Chicago Quotas Story Index:

1. Introduction
2. Corruption and Fraud - The Duffs
3. Lawsuits against City and County quotas (this page)

          "... The County's laundry list of favored minorities includes two groups - - persons whose ancestors came to the United States from Spain or Portugal - - that common sense (not contradicted by any evidence) instructs have never been subject to significant discrimination by Cook County."

          "So the ordinance is overinclusive. Nor has the County made any effort to show that, were it not for a history of discrimination, minorities would have 30 percent, and women 10 percent, of County construction contracts."

DOWNLOAD the Appeal Court's 7/6/01 Order
(plain text format)


SUMMARY:  "In February 1996, the Builders Association of Greater Chicago sued the city in federal court, claiming the association contractors have been denied bids, even when they came in with the lowest price, because of the [quota] requirement, and that Chicago "has encouraged and perpetuated racial-, ethnic- and gender-based discrimination against non-minority owned entities in the award and performance of its contracts through its ordinances, policies, procedures and requirements . . . "

          "The [builders] association also asserts that its members have lost profits by being forced to enter into joint venture agreements with minority subcontractors when they could have done the work themselves and that the city never identified any past discrimination by itself or private industry against minority-owned or women-owned businesses."

Excerpted from Northwestern University Medill News Service archives.
Last known link:





CITY OF CHICAGO, a municipal corporation,


No. 96 C 1122 Docketed Dec. 29, 2003


Selected News and Excerpts:
Judge James B. Moran's 12/29/03 Opinion and Order

          "CHICAGO, Dec. 30 (UPI) - A federal judge ruled Chicago's 14-year-old set-aside law to remedy discrimination against minority- and women-owned businesses in the construction industry is flawed and gave the city six months to make changes.

          "Minorities and women received $619 million in city contracts last year -- about 41 percent of all city business -- far exceeding minimum requirements of a 1989 set-aside ordinance which reserved 25 percent of city contracts worth more than $10,000 for minority-owned businesses and 5 percent for women-owned businesses.

          "The judge said set-asides were needed to remedy ongoing discrimination, but his ruling noted that healthy, well-established minority- and woman-owned firms were eligible for set-aside contracts under the current program. 

Chicago Quotas Story Index:

1. Introduction
2. Corruption and Fraud - The Duffs
3. Lawsuits against City and County quotas (this page)

          "Moran said the city should take into account a business owner's net worth and lower the annual amount a minority- or female-owned firm can make to qualify for the set-aside program from $27.5 million to $17 million.  "Remedies must be more akin to a laser beam than a baseball bat," Moran wrote.

From the UPI story, as printed in the Washington Times 12/31/03.
Last known link to the Washington Times article:

          "... Chicago's set-aside program, as it is known, has been called into question after a federal judge ruled last week that the program is illegal because, among other things, it amounts to a quota system.

          "The judge, James B. Moran, stayed his order for six months, meaning that the program can remain in effect until early summer while city officials work on amending it. The ruling marks another blow to government set-aside programs designed to aid minority- and women-owned firms that have suffered numerous setbacks as courts question the programs' constitutionality."

From the Boston Globe story 1/4/04.
Last known link to the Globe story:

          "In December, a federal judge gave the city of Chicago six months to make changes in the law aimed at curbing discrimination by the construction industry against minority- and women-owned businesses.

          "But Judge James Moran refused to strike down the law -- as urged by the Builders Association of Greater Chicago -- because he said it is needed to remedy past and ongoing discrimination.  "The city has a compelling interest in not having its construction projects slip back to near-monopoly domination by white firms," Moran said.

          "Moran said the city "has been too aggressive in denying waivers" to contractors who are unable to find qualified subcontractors.

          "He also said the amount a minority- or woman-owned company makes in a year that indicates it no longer needs assistance is set too high.  He recommended lowering it from the present $27.5 million to $17 million a year.

          "Moran gave the city six months to make those and other changes. He could terminate the program if it is not modified to his satisfaction."

Excerpted from the Gary Wisby story in the Chicago Sun-Times Jan. 9, 2004
Last known link to the complete story (cached):

          "Moran wrote in his opinion that the city "has a compelling interest in not having its construction projects slip back to near-monopoly domination by white male firms," but he said Chicago's set-aside program is "more expansive and more rigid" than municipal set-aside plans that have passed legal muster elsewhere.  It has no termination date and does not consider a minority business owner's wealth to determine if he or she should be certified for the set-aside program, Moran pointed out.  Companies owned by women and minorities can have annual sales as high as $27.5 million annually and still qualify for the program, he said."

From the Chicago Tribune 1/6/04
Last known link to the Tribune story:

DOWNLOAD District Judge James B. Moran's 12/29/03 Opinion
(Adobe Acrobat format - 931 KB)

END:  3. Lawsuits against Chicago and Cook County racial quotas


Chicago racial quota corruption and lawsuits
Corruption and fraud in Chicago's racial quota program
Lawsuits against Chicago and Cook County racial quotas

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