Unlawful to Favor Women-Owned Businesses

Men need not apply” (Commentary, Wednesday) was right to criticize the federal government’s award of contracts based on sex in the Women-Owned Small Business Program (WOSB).

The study used by the government to justify completely excluding male businesses from contracts was stale and flawed. Its assumption that isolated data showing female underrepresentation was proof of discrimination against women, which justified affirmative action, ignored the Supreme Court’s 1989 Croson ruling. That ruling said it was “completely unrealistic” to expect groups to be represented in each industry in “proportion to their representation in the local population.”

The government’s reliance on old data violates federal court rulings declaring that affirmative action can’t be used as a “remedy” for discrimination unless the discrimination occurred recently. Rulings like Brunet v. Columbus (1993), which struck down a sex-based affirmative-action program, and Hammon v. Barry (1987), which struck down race-based affirmative action, clearly show as much.