Northeastern Florida Chapter, Associated General Contractors of America v. City of Jacksonville, Florida

PETITIONER: Northeastern Florida Chapter, Associated General Contractors of America
RESPONDENT: City of Jacksonville, Florida, et al.
LOCATION: Jacksonville City Council

DOCKET NO.: 91-1721
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

CITATION: 508 US 656 (1993)
ARGUED: Feb 22, 1993
DECIDED: Jun 14, 1993

ADVOCATES:
Deborah A. Ausburn - on behalf of the Petitioner
Leonard S. Magid - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case

In 1984, the Minority Business Enterprise Participation ordinance was passed in Jacksonville, Florida which set aside 10 percent of the budget for city contracts to hire minority-owned businesses. On April 4, 1989, the Northeastern Florida Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, an association of individuals and companies that worked in construction in Jacksonville, filed an action against the city and its mayor in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, claiming that the ordinance violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court ruled in favor of the association, but when the city appealed, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed. The appellate court held that the association lacked standing to file the action because it did not demonstrate that one or more of its members would have received a reserved city contract but for the ordinance.

Question

In order to have standing to challenge the Jacksonville, Florida ordinance favoring minority-owned businesses, must an association of contractors demonstrate that at least one of its members would have received a city contract in the absence of the ordinance?

Media for Northeastern Florida Chapter, Associated General Contractors of America v. City of Jacksonville, Florida

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 22, 1993 in Northeastern Florida Chapter, Associated General Contractors of America v. City of Jacksonville, Florida

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument now in Number 91-1721, Northeastern Florida Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America v. the City of Jacksonville, Florida.

Ms. Ausburn.

Deborah A. Ausburn:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court:

4 years ago my clients filed an equal protection challenge to an ordinance passed by the City of Jacksonville, Florida.

Today, the question is before this Court of whether nonminority contractors who do business with the City of Jacksonville have standing to challenge an ordinance that excludes nonminority contractors who do business with the City of Jacksonville from consideration for certain city contracts.

There are before this Court three--

Ms. Ausburn, do we also have to decide whether the case is moot?

Deborah A. Ausburn:

--Yes, Your Honor, that issue has been presented to this Court.

The... as we discussed in our briefs, the city has repealed the ordinance that was originally challenged.

However, it did not simply repeal that ordinance, it repealed it and replaced it with another ordinance that for purposes of standing is identical.

Well, is it?

The new ordinance is rather different, is it not?

Deborah A. Ausburn:

Your Honor, the city claims that it is different in the fact that it is supported by evidence that was presented to the city council before the ordinance was enacted.

That, however, is not in the record, and frankly we will not know until someone has standing to challenge that ordinance and obtain court review.

Well, in structure it's different as well, is it not?

Deborah A. Ausburn:

Yes, Your Honor.

Rather than being a simple set-aside which the original ordinance was, this new ordinance has five different ways of granting preferences along racial lines.

There are set-asides, there are bid preferences, there are direct negotiations, there are subcontracting requirements.

The different--

Is it possible that the standing analysis would be different under the new ordinance?

Deborah A. Ausburn:

--Your Honor, it might be that in some instances there would be a question of subcontracting requirements of whether there were contractors who would have standing to challenge the subcontracting requirements, which is not an issue under the old ordinance.

However, for purposes of the fact that nonminority contractors come into the bidding process with a distinct disadvantage for a certain percentage of city contracts, that standing analysis would be the same under--

Has your complaint been amended anywhere down the line to address the new ordinance?

Deborah A. Ausburn:

--No, Your Honor, the case has been dismissed because of the standing issue.

So as it comes to us, anyway, it was based on an ordinance that's now repealed.

Deborah A. Ausburn:

Yes, Your Honor, although I would use the word, replaced with another substantially similar and, for purposes of standing, identical ordinance.

Ms. Ausburn, our judgments don't address legal issues.

I mean, I agree with you the legal issue that you raise will continue to be there under the new ordinance, maybe in somewhat different form, but courts don't address legal issues, they issue judgments, and you're essentially asking us to strike down a... or to disallow the implementation of a statute which no longer exists.

You're asking us to do something that's a useless act, aren't you?

Deborah A. Ausburn:

Not necessarily, Your Honor.