24 Mar 2020 Supreme Court Demands Proof of Clear Racial Discrimination
Black Conservatives Praise Justices for Rejecting “Race Card” Allegations to Root Out Real Bias
Washington, D.C. – Allegations of racial discrimination in contracting must prove that bias is the sole reason for a minority company losing a deal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday. This decision frees up plaintiffs and courts to focus on true instances of discrimination, according to members of the Project 21 black leadership network.
“With this decision, the justices unanimously ruled that Americans must show that ‘race was the determining factor behind their claim’ of discrimination and not just merely one of several factors,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper. “In too many instances, the mere allegation that race might have been a factor has been sufficient to impose costly legal burdens on companies and other accused defendants. This commonsense approach to contract law will ensure that more time can be spent by the courts dealing with actual instances of discrimination and less time with companies being forced to prove they didn’t.”
A lawsuit brought by media mogul Byron Allen claimed that Comcast refused to carry channels produced by his Entertainment Studios Network (ESN) on Comcast cable systems because it often rejected content from “100% African American-owned media companies.” Comcast argued that it lacked the bandwidth to include ESN channels such as JusticeCentral.TV, Comedy.TV, Pets.TV and Cars.TV and favored news programming over those channels.
The Supreme Court justices ruled that plaintiffs must prove that race was the determining factor for a lost contract. In the unanimous opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote: “Under this standard, a plaintiff must demonstrate that, but for the defendant’s unlawful conduct, its alleged injury would not have occurred.” The decision sends the case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for rehearing with this standard in use.
“If and when a person – or, in this case, a business entity – refuses to enter into a contractual agreement with a minority-owned organization, it doesn’t necessarily mean the decision is predicated on racial bias,” said Project 21 member Derryck Green. “The lawsuit by Entertainment Studios Network was especially unconvincing because Comcast recently added programming from Afro and Cleo TV – two black-owned and independent networks. These are in addition to existing programming from TV One, Revolt TV and Aspire TV as part of Comcast’s content distribution. Comcast also hosts programming owned by and focused on Hispanics.”
“Anti-discrimination laws shouldn’t be trivialized, period. If and when evidence of racial discrimination can be proved, it should be remediated immediately,” Green added. “But playing the ‘race card’ because one doesn’t get his or her way – and in ESN’s case, a huge financial payday – makes a mockery of racial discrimination laws. It also makes it more difficult for other minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to be taken seriously in similar positions.”
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