Attorney General Knudsen leads 19-state coalition in challenging Biden administration’s unlawful race-based guidance

Attorney General Knudsen leads 19-state coalition in challenging Biden administration’s unlawful race-based guidance

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led a coalition of 19 attorneys general in sending a comment letter Friday opposing the Biden administration’s “Business Diversity Principles” proposal which promotes illicit racial discrimination and anti-American principles.

The Department of Commerce proposal pushes businesses to incorporate a host of race-based measures and goals to increase “diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility” (DEIA) which appear to advocate for explicitly race-based employment quotas and decision-making. However, as Attorney General Knudsen has warned employers in prior letters, “discriminating on the basis of race” is illegal and wrong.

“We endorse the value of promoting meaningful diversity of experience, thought, and background among the public- and private-sector workforce.  But race is both a poor and unlawful proxy for achieving that end,” Attorney General Knudsen and the coalition wrote. “We hope to work with the Department to promote meaningful diversity efforts that abide governing federal- and state-law limits. In the meantime, we will continue to oppose measures—like the Department’s proposed Business Diversity Principles—that perpetuate unlawful treatment of individuals on the basis of race.”

Recently, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre asserted that the Biden administration seeks to advance “equity” in every policy. One of the first Executive Orders signed by the president outlined the administration’s “ambitious, whole-of-government approach to racial equity” and directed federal agencies to “continuously embed equity into all aspects of Federal decision-making.”

The proposed guidance runs afoul of the law the law in three ways:

  • First, the Commerce Department’s proposed race-based employment policies violate the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
  • Second, race-based employment decision-making violates Title VII and related civil-rights laws.
  • Third, the discrimination that “cannot be done directly” under governing law also “cannot be done indirectly” through end-run means consciously aimed at satisfying racial targets.

The Commerce Department’s “Business Diversity Principles” would push businesses to “strive to meet diversity targets in their long-term workforce plans” and assess DEIA performance using “demographic data across all levels and departments.”  It is an attempt by the Biden administration to tell private businesses to hire certain individuals based on racial preferences. If they do not, according to the government, those businesses are not using “best practices.” Such practices are immoral, illegal, and regressive.

Race-based employment practices are illegal as invidious discrimination. As the Supreme Court reasoned, “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.” “That should—and legally, must—be square one for any employment ‘best practices’ the Department promulgates,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter.

Attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia also signed the letter which was co-led by attorneys general in Kansas and Tennessee.

Click here to read the letter.


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