WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed suit with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an earlier appeals court ruling—AFGE v. United States, 330 F.3d 513 (D.C. Cir. 2003)—which the union contends violates the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
AFGE’s suit challenges language in the Defense Appropriations Act (P.L. 106-79) which establishes a race-based preference for Native-American contractors, claiming the language violates the equal protection and dues process guarantees of the 5th Amendment.
Under this law, the Defense Department is directly converting federal functions to Native-American owned firms regardless of the costs to taxpayers.
“Unlike legitimate preferences for small businesses, the blind and disabled groups, in this circumstance Congress has set up benefits that do not go to impoverished tribes or even disadvantaged Native Americans,” stated AFGE National President John Gage. “In fact, the only groups that are being advantaged are wealthy political contributors who simply rehire former federal employees at a diminished level of pay and benefits. To call this a ruse or a sham would be an understatement. To call it unconstitutional is beyond question."
The case first arose when the Air Force directly contracted base maintenance operations at MacDill (Tampa, Fla.) and Kirtland (Albuquerque, N.M.) Air Force Bases to the Chugach Alaska Corporation without giving federal employees an opportunity to prove they could do the work better and cheaper. The two government contracts with Chugach are each worth $500 million over a ten-year period.
AFGE maintains that the challenged legislation is a raced-based preference similar to that which the Supreme Court declared constitutionally suspect in the landmark case of Adarand Constructor, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 217 (1995).
AFGE is the largest union for government employees, representing some 600,000 federal and D.C. government employees throughout the national. Log onto www.afge.org to learn more about AFGE.