Institute Prevails in Opening Round On Constitutional Challenge to Davis-Bacon Act

John Kramer
John Kramer · May 8, 1995

Washington, D.C. — In an order released today, federal Judge William B. Bryant denied the government’s motion to dismiss a constitutional challenge to the Davis-Bacon Act, filed by the Institute for Justice on behalf of minority contractors and public housing tenant groups on the ground that the law is racially discriminatory.

“This ruling is a major step toward removing one of the most noxious barriers to economic opportunity,” declared Clint Bolick, the Institute’s litigation director.

The law, which requires “prevailing wages” (usually union wages) on nearly all federal contracts, was passed in 1931 and aimed at restricting minority entrepreneurs and workers from competing with mainly white unions. The U.S. Department of Labor, which is defending the law, argued that the law was not enacted for discriminatory purposes and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. In a one-page order, the court refused to do so, allowing the case to proceed to trial.

The lawsuit is a centerpiece in the Institute for Justice’s mission to promote economic liberty and remove arbitrary government barriers to entrepreneurial opportunities.