Charlie A. Dooley, the county executive for St. Louis County, Missouri, has apparently decided to follow President Obama’s example, and simply sign an executive order when the legislature (in his case, the county council rather than Congress) won’t do his bidding. He then vetoed a subsequent bill because he didn’t like it as much as his executive order.
The executive order he has signed is Obama-esque in its content, too, setting percentage “goals” (read “quotas”) by race for county contracting. What’s even more bizarre, though, is that the reason given for his contracting preferences is to increase workforce “diversity.” That raises all kinds of additional constitutional problems and factual questions:
1. Has it been shown which groups are underrepresented in which workforce?
2. Has it been shown that all the companies being given contracting preferences have more underrepresented workers than all the companies that aren’t being given contracting preferences?
3. Of course, racial preferences in this context can be used only to remedy discrimination, but has the underrepresentation of some groups in the workforce been shown to be caused by discrimination?
4. And even if the answer to 3 is “yes,” are there no better ways to remedy the discrimination than the roundabout method of giving contracting preferences (especially if the answer to 2 is “no”)?
Another nice touch: The executive order defines the various favored racial “minorities” to include those who “Maintain cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition with any of the original peoples of the North American continent, or demonstrate at least one-quarter descent from such groups.”
Mr. Dooley faces a primary vote next Tuesday, by the way, and it’s speculated that what we have here is some racial politicking by him.