America First Legal Files Brief at Eleventh Circuit Blasting Racially Discriminatory Practices in the Private Sector

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, America First Legal (AFL) filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, blasting racially discriminatory private sector actions in American Alliance for Equal Rights v. Fearless Fund Management, LLC, et al. in support of the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER).

Fearless Fund is a venture capital firm that invests in companies seeking early-stage capital. However, they only invest in businesses if the business owner is a black woman. So, on August 2, 2023, AAER sued Fearless Fund, alleging racial discrimination for awarding $20,000 grants and career services to black female-owned companies while failing to offer these same opportunities to other races and to males–which AAER alleges violates 42 U.S.C. § 1981. 

Fearless Fund argued that the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees allowed them to engage in racial discrimination and protected them from the requirements of the Civil Rights Act, and the district court agreed. But the Supreme Court has never endorsed such an expansive view of the First Amendment, and AAER appealed–and the Eleventh Circuit granted a stay of the district court’s order pending appeal.  

In the brief, AFL argued that the Supreme Court has never allowed First Amendment claims to exempt litigants from laws prohibiting racial discrimination and that  42 U.S.C. § 1981 protects all Americans of all races from racial discrimination–including white people. AFL represents a plaintiff and a putative class in a similar case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Roberts et al., v. Progressive Preferred Insurance Co., 23-cv-01597-PAG (N.D. Ohio).

Statement from Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Vice President and General Counsel:

“No American should face racial discrimination in 2023. We are proud to fight for our clients and to support other cases across the country to advance true equality in the United States,” said Gene Hamilton.

Read the brief here.

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