Ethnic Preferences in Contracting for Arab-Americans, and Religious Preferences for Hasidic Jews

A National Review Online article reports on a petition that the federal Minority Business Development Agency is considering. The petition, from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, seeks discrimination in favor of Arab-Americans, in the form of a “formal designation of Arab-Americans as a minority group that is socially or economically disadvantaged pursuant to 15 CFR Part 1400,” which “would allow the members of this community to receive assistance from MBDA funded programs, such as the MBDA Business Center program.” The period for formal public comments closed in late June, but I don’t know when the MBDA is scheduled to render its decision.

To my surprise, it appears that Hasidic Jews are already the beneficiaries of such preferences, though my quick search couldn’t find any details on the basis for the MBDA’s decision to so discriminate in favor of a particular religious group. (For more on the similarities between race-/ethnicity-based preference programs and religion-based preference programs, see my Diversity, Race as Proxy, and Religion as Proxy article, though that is focused on preferences justified by supposed “diversity” concerns, as opposed to preferences justified by a supposed need to compensate for an identity group’s perceived “social[] or economic[] disadvantage.”)