Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta

PETITIONER: Adarand Constructors, Inc.
LOCATION: United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan

DOCKET NO.: 00-730
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 534 US 103 (2001)
ARGUED: Oct 31, 2001
DECIDED: Nov 27, 2001

Theodore B. Olson - Argued the cause for the respondents
William P. Pendley -
William Perry Pendley - Argued the cause for the petitioner

Facts of the case

In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, held that strict scrutiny governs whether race-based classifications violate the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause (Adarand I). The Court then remanded the case for a determination whether the race-based components of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program could withstand this standard of review. Ultimately, the Court remanded Adarand for a second time for a determination on the merits consistent with Adarand I. When the Court of Appeals held, that by virtue of a new regulatory framework under which the DOT's state and local DBE program now operated, that program passed constitutional muster, the Court again certiorari to decide whether the Court of Appeals misapplied the strict scrutiny standard announced in Adarand I.


Did the Court of Appeals misapply the strict scrutiny standard in determining if Congress had a compelling interest to enact legislation designed to remedy the effects of racial discrimination? Is the U.S. Department of Transportation's current Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest?

Media for Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 31, 2001 in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - November 27, 2001 in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta

William H. Rehnquist:

The second of the cases I have to announce is No. 00-730, Adarand Constructors, Inc. versus Mineta.

We granted certiorari in this case to review whether the Court of Appeals was correct when it concluded that the Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program is consistent with the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

In a Per Curiam filed with the Clerk of the Court today, we dismissed the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted.

The Court of Appeals reviewed a race conscious program that governs procurement of Federal Transportation funds to states and localities.

We presumed that the certiorari states that we would be able to review this same program but upon full briefing and oral argument, it is clear that petitioner is challenging a very different race conscious program, one relating to direct procurement of Federal Transportation funds to private contractors.

Because this program is governed by a different set of statutes and regulations than the program reviewed by the Court of Appeals, there is no decision below addressing the constitutionality of the only program petitioner now challenges.

We are a court of final review and do not decide in the first instance issues not decided below.

To do so here would be especially unwarranted since the Court of Appeals found petitioner lacks standing to challenge the statutes and regulations relating to DOT’s direct procurement program.

Yet, petitioner’s brief did not challenge this ruling.

Petitioner points out that this case presents questions of national importance calling for final resolution by this court.

The importance of an issue, however, should not distort the principles that control the exercise of our jurisdiction.

We find on the record before as to these principles preclude review of questions upon which we granted certiorari.

We dismissed the writ accordingly.

The opinion of the court is unanimous.