Rep. Payne, Jr. supports Anti-Discrimination Brief for Contracts

Oct 10, 2019 Issues: Local Issues

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October 10, 2019                                                                                                          Patrick Wright
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Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.’s Supports Anti-Discrimination Brief for Contracts

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. wants to eliminate racial discrimination in business contracts nationwide.

Congressman Payne, Jr. signed the Supreme Court amicus brief that was filed by U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) last week to support a lower court ruling regarding race in contract negotiations.  Traditionally, courts have ruled that a party must prove it was harmed by discrimination, or that race was the primary factor, when a company failed to enter into a contract with it.  However, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled recently that plaintiffs could be victims of discrimination in contract disputes without proof of harm, if race was a “motivating factor” in the decision to reject the contract.

Congressman Payne, Jr. said race should not be an issue at any point in a contract negotiation.
“African American business owners have lost contracts and business opportunities based on direct or indirect racism for decades,” said Congressman Payne, Jr.  “I am glad the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that business contracts need to be an agreement based on a mutually-beneficial arrangement and not on a personal bias.  Capitalism only works when every company, regardless of ownership, has the opportunity to enter a fair and open contract negotiation.”       

Sen. Harris filed the brief in connection to Comcast Corporation v. National Association of African American-Owned Media and Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc., a case where a business owner claimed Comcast rejected to include his stations on their system based on race.  The Supreme Court will hear arguments in this case on November 13, 2019.  Amicus briefs, or “friend of the court” briefs, are written to give the court information or perspective on a case from individuals not directly associated with the case. 

Along with Congressman Payne, Jr., Harris was joined on the brief by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) as well as Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

In addition to members of Congress, several groups supported the brief, such as the NAACP, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Anti-Defamation League, National Action Network, National Urban League, National Council of Jewish Women, and SEIU.
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