Rothe Development Corp. v. Dept. Of Defense ( 2008 )


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  •  United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
                                          2008-1017
    
    
                          ROTHE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,
    
                                                          Plaintiff-Appellant,
    
                                               v.
    
    
                              DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE and
                             DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE,
    
                                                          Defendants-Appellees.
    
            David F. Barton, The Gardner Law Firm, of San Antonio, Texas, argued for
    plaintiff-appellant. Of counsel was Jay K. Farwell.
    
          Karen L. Stevens, Attorney, Appellate Section, Civil Rights Division, United
    States Department of Justice, of Washington, DC, argued for defendants-appellees.
    With her on the brief were Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General, and
    Mark L. Gross, Attorney. Of counsel was Gregory B. Friel, Attorney.
    
           J. Scott Detamore, Mountain States Legal Foundation, of Lakewood, Colorado,
    for amicus curiae Mountain States Legal Foundation.
    
           Paul J. Beard II, Pacific Legal Foundation, of Sacramento, California, for amici
    curiae Pacific Legal Foundation and Center for Equal Opportunity.
    
    Appealed from: United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
    
    Judge Xavier Rodriguez
     United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    
                                           2008-1017
    
                          ROTHE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,
    
                                                                  Plaintiff-Appellant,
    
                                                v.
    
                              DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE and
                             DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE,
    
                                                                  Defendants-Appellees.
    
    
    Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in case
    no. 98-cv-1011, Judge Xavier Rodriguez.
    
                                __________________________
    
                                 DECIDED: November 4, 2008
                                __________________________
    
    
    Before MICHEL, Chief Judge, MAYER, Circuit Judge, and STEARNS, * District Judge.
    
    MICHEL, Chief Judge.
    
          This case concerns the constitutionality of 10 U.S.C. § 2323 (“Section 1207”),
    
    which, in relevant part, (1) sets a “goal” that five percent of federal defense contracting
    
    dollars for each fiscal year be awarded to certain entities including small business
    
    concerns owned and controlled by “socially and economically disadvantaged
    
    individuals”; (2) incorporates the Small Business Act’s presumption that Black
    
    Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans are socially
    
    disadvantaged individuals; and (3) provides that the Department of Defense shall give
    
          *
                   Honorable Richard G. Stearns, District Judge, United States District Court
    for the District of Massachusetts, sitting by designation.
    specified forms of assistance to the listed entities and may, when practicable and
    
    necessary to achieve the five percent goal, make advance payments to those entities
    
    and award contracts to them at prices up to ten percent above fair market cost.
    
          Plaintiff-Appellant Rothe Development Corporation (“Rothe”) filed its first
    
    complaint in this case in November, 1998, bringing an equal protection challenge to
    
    Section 1207 both on its face and as applied by Defendants-Appellants the Department
    
    of Defense and Department of the Air Force (together, “DOD”) earlier that year, when
    
    DOD awarded a contract to an Asian-American-owned business despite the fact that
    
    Rothe—owned by a Caucasian woman—was the lowest bidder. Since this case began
    
    in 1998, Congress has reenacted Section 1207 a number of times, the district court has
    
    rendered judgment in this case three times, and we have remanded the case twice
    
    without reaching the ultimate question of constitutional muster.     Most recently, the
    
    district court granted summary judgment to DOD on Rothe’s facial challenge, Rothe
    
    Dev. Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., 
    499 F. Supp. 2d 775
     (W.D. Tex. 2007) (“Rothe VI”),
    
    and, after Rothe’s claim for monetary relief became moot, entered a final judgment in
    
    favor of DOD on September 25, 2007. Rothe appealed, and we heard oral argument on
    
    September 2, 2008.
    
          Now, in our third opinion in this case, we must decide whether Section 1207, on
    
    its face, as reenacted in 2006, violates the right to equal protection (as incorporated
    
    against the federal government by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment).
    
    Because we will hold that Congress did not have a “strong basis in evidence” before it in
    
    2006, upon which to conclude that DOD was a passive participant in racial
    
    discrimination in relevant markets across the country and that therefore race-conscious
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                  2
    remedial measures were necessary, we will reverse the district court’s judgment in part,
    
    and will hold that Section 1207 (i.e., 10 U.S.C. § 2323) is unconstitutional on its face.
    
                                         BACKGROUND
    
    A.     Relevant Statutes and Regulations
    
           Section 1207, relevant sections of the Small Business Act, pertinent regulations,
    
    and their history are set out in detail in the district court’s thorough opinion. See Rothe
    
    VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 784-94. A brief review follows here.
    
           1.     Section 1207 as Originally Enacted
    
           Congress first enacted Section 1207 in 1986, for a three-year period.            See
    
    National Defense Authorization Act of 1987, Pub. L. No. 99-661, § 1207, 100 Stat.
    
    3816, 3973 (Nov. 14, 1986). The statute, titled “Contract Goal for Minorities,” provided
    
    that, except where compelling national security considerations required otherwise:
    
           a goal of 5 percent of the amount of [DOD procurement, R&D, military
           construction, and maintenance contracts] shall be the goal of the Department of
           Defense in each of fiscal years 1987, 1988, and 1989 for the total combined
           amount obligated for contracts and subcontracts entered into with [inter alia,]
           small business concerns, including mass media, owned and controlled by
           socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (as defined by section 8(d)
           of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 637(d)) and regulations issued under such
           section), the majority of the earnings of which directly accrue to such
           individuals . . . .
    
    Id. § 1207(a) (emphasis added).
    
           Section 8(d) of the Small Business Act and relevant regulations, in turn, provided
    
    at that time that Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific
    
    Americans, and other minorities were presumed to be “socially and economically
    
    disadvantaged individuals.” See 15 U.S.C. § 637(d)(3)(C)(ii) (1990).
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    3
            Subsection (e) of Section 1207, titled “Competitive Procedures and Advanced
    
    Payments,” directed DOD to take certain measures to attain the goal of directing five
    
    percent of contract dollars to businesses owned by socially and economically
    
    disadvantaged individuals (such businesses, “SDBs”). Most prominently, the statute
    
    provided that
    
            [t]o the extent practicable and when necessary to facilitate achievement of
            the 5 percent goal described in subsection (a), the Secretary of Defense
            may enter into contracts using less than full and open competitive
            procedures (including awards under section 8(a) of the Small Business
            Act), but shall pay a price not exceeding fair market cost by more than 10
            percent in payment per contract to contractors or subcontractors
            described in subsection (a).
    
    
    Pub. L. No. 99-661, § 1207(e)(3) (emphasis added). DOD implemented this directive by
    
    applying a price evaluation adjustment (“PEA”) to bids submitted by non-SDB bidders,
    
    increasing those bids by ten percent before comparing them to the bids submitted by
    
    SDBs.
    
            2.      History of Section 1207
    
            In 1989, before Section 1207 was set to expire, Congress reenacted the statute
    
    for another three years. See National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1990
    
    and 1991, Pub. L. No. 101-189, § 831(b), 103 Stat. 1352, 1507 (Nov. 29, 1989). In
    
    1992, Congress reenacted Section 1207 again, this time for seven years. See National
    
    Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993, Pub. L. No. 102-484, § 801(a)(1)(B),
    
    106 Stat. 2315, 2442 (Oct. 23, 1992).
    
            In 1998, Congress amended the statute without yet reenacting it.              This
    
    amendment required DOD to suspend the PEA mechanism for an entire year after any
    
    fiscal year in which the five percent goal had been met. See Strom Thurmond National
    
    
    2008-1017                                   4
    Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999, Pub. L. No. 105-261, § 801, 112 Stat.
    
    1920, 2080-81 (Oct. 5, 1999). Because the five percent goal was met for fiscal year
    
    1998, the PEA was suspended in 1999.           See Suspension of the Price Evaluation
    
    Adjustment for Small Disadvantaged Businesses, 64 Fed. Reg. 4847 (Feb. 1, 1999).
    
          Congress reenacted Section 1207 in 1999, again in 2002, and most recently in
    
    2006. See National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-
    
    65, § 808, 113 Stat. 512, 705 (Oct. 5, 1999); Bob Stump National Defense Authorization
    
    Act for Fiscal Year 2003, Pub. L. No. 107-314, § 816, 116 Stat. 2610 (Dec. 2, 2002);
    
    National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-163, § 842,
    
    119 Stat. 3136 (Jan. 6, 2006). The statute is now set to expire at the end of fiscal year
    
    2009 if it is not reenacted before then.    See 10 U.S.C. § 2323(k)(1) (“This section
    
    applies in the Department of Defense to each of fiscal years 1987 through 2009.”).
    
          As the district court noted, DOD met the five percent goal in every fiscal year
    
    from 1998 to 2006, and thus the PEA was serially suspended through March 9, 2008.
    
    See Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 792-93. In February of 2008, while this appeal was
    
    pending, DOD published notice that it met the five percent goal in fiscal year 2007 as
    
    well, and that DOD would continue to suspend the PEA through March 9, 2009.
    
    Suspension of the Price Evaluation Adjustment for Small Disadvantaged Businesses,
    
    73 Fed. Reg. 9304 (Feb. 20, 2008).
    
          3.     Section 1207 Today
    
          The present Section 1207, i.e., as reenacted in 2006, and relevant regulations
    
    differ from the original enactment and regulations to some degree, as the district court
    
    discussed.   See Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 790-94.          First, in addition to the
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                  5
    PEA suspension clause added by the 1998 amendments, the present statute provides
    
    that whenever the PEA is not suspended, the size of the adjustment made to non-SDB
    
    bids need not be ten percent, and must be smaller if non-SDBs are being denied a
    
    reasonable opportunity to compete. 2 See 10 U.S.C. § 2323(e)(3)(A) (“The head of an
    
    agency shall adjust the percentage specified in the preceding sentence for any industry
    
    category if available information clearly indicates that nondisadvantaged small business
    
    concerns in such industry category are generally being denied a reasonable opportunity
    
    to compete for contracts because of the use of that percentage in the application of this
    
    paragraph.”); see also id. § 2323(g)(1)(A) (“To the maximum extent practicable, the
    
    head of the agency shall ensure that no particular industry category bears a
    
    disproportionate share of the contracts awarded to attain the goal established by
    
    subsection (a).”); id. § 2323(g)(2) (“Upon making a determination that a particular
    
    industry category is bearing a disproportionate share, the head of the agency shall take
    
    appropriate actions to limit the contracting activity’s use of set asides in awarding
    
    contracts in that particular industry category.”).
    
    
    
    
           2
                  A present regulation directs that the sizes of price evaluation adjustments
    are to be determined by the Department of Commerce “on an annual basis, by North
    American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Industry Subsector, and region, if
    any.” 48 C.F.R. § 19.201(b) (2007). Although Commerce did issue determinations of
    price evaluation adjustments in 1998 and 1999, and proposed to “develop new
    benchmarks and utilization estimates every three years” thereafter, no new benchmarks
    or price evaluation adjustment determinations have been issued, presumably because
    the PEA has been serially suspended since 1999. See Small Disadvantaged Business
    Procurement; Reform of Affirmative Action in Federal Procurement, 63 Fed. Reg.
    35,714 (June 30, 1998) (“Department of Commerce Benchmark Study”); Office of
    Federal Procurement Policy Small Disadvantaged Business Procurement: Reform of
    Affirmative Action in Federal Procurement, 64 Fed. Reg. 52,806 (Sept. 30, 1999).
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                     6
           Second, through changes to pertinent regulations, minorities are no longer
    
    presumed to be economically disadvantaged regardless of their wealth, and instead
    
    must represent that they meet the same economic requirement met by any SDB
    
    applicant. See 13 C.F.R. § 124.1002(c) (2008) (“In assessing the personal financial
    
    condition of an individual claiming economic disadvantage, his or her net worth must be
    
    less than $750,000 after taking into account [certain] exclusions . . . .”). 3
    
           Members of certain minority groups are still presumed to be socially
    
    disadvantaged, however. See id. § 124.103(b) (“There is a rebuttable presumption that
    
    the following individuals are socially disadvantaged: Black Americans; Hispanic
    
    Americans; Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native
    
    Hawaiians); Asian Pacific Americans (persons with origins from Burma, Thailand,
    
    Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Japan, China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan,
    
    Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Vietnam, Korea, The Philippines, U.S. Trust Territory of
    
    the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated
    
    States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam,
    
    Samoa, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, or Nauru); Subcontinent Asian Americans
    
    (persons with origins from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives
    
    Islands or Nepal) . . . .”); id. § 124.1002(a) (“In determining whether a firm qualifies as
    
    
    
           3
                   In a letter dated October 23, 2008, DOD counsel brought to the Court’s
    attention the recent publication by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) of an
    interim final rule. See Small Disadvantaged Business Program, 73 Fed. Reg. 57,490
    (Oct. 3, 2008) (to be codified at 37 C.F.R. pt. 123). The interim final rule relieves SBA
    of the task of certifying SDBs and places that responsibility on the procuring agencies,
    such as DOD. As DOD counsel notes, and we agree, the substantive standards
    governing SDB certification have not changed. Thus, although the new rules alter the
    process of qualifying as an SDB, the new rules have no effect on our constitutional
    analysis.
    
    
    2008-1017                                      7
    an SDB, the criteria of social and economic disadvantage and other eligibility
    
    requirements established in subpart A of this part [including § 124.03] apply, including
    
    the requirements of ownership and control and disadvantaged status, unless otherwise
    
    provided in this subpart.”).
    
           Third, a person who is economically disadvantaged but is not a member of one of
    
    the minority groups listed in the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) regulations may
    
    nevertheless pursue SDB status if the person can “establish individual social
    
    disadvantage by a preponderance of the evidence.”        Id. § 124.103(c)(1) (emphasis
    
    added).    Although non-minorities have long had the option to demonstrate social
    
    disadvantage, the standard of proof was once higher.     See 13 C.F.R. § 124.105(c)(1)
    
    (1990) (“An individual who is not a member of one of the above-named groups must
    
    establish his/her individual social disadvantage on the basis of clear and convincing
    
    evidence.” (emphasis added)).
    
           Fourth, a business that loses a bid to a SDB because of a PEA may protest the
    
    disadvantaged status of the successful bidder. See 37 C.F.R. § 124.1017(a) (2007);
    
    see also Small Disadvantaged Business Program, 73 Fed. Reg. 57,490, 57,495 (Oct. 3,
    
    2008) (to be codified at 37 C.F.R. pt. 123) (redesignating 13 C.F.R. § 124.1017(a) as §
    
    124.1007(a)).    The SBA can revoke an entity’s SDB status if the protest contains
    
    credible evidence that the entity no longer meets SDB requirements or that the
    
    application contains false and misleading information. See 37 C.F.R. § 124.1021(c)
    
    (2007); see also Small Disadvantaged Business Program, 73 Fed. Reg. at 57,495
    
    (redesignating 37 C.F.R. § 124.1021(c) as § 124.1011(c)).
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                  8
    B.     Facts and Procedural History
    
           The procedural history of this case, like the history of the statute itself, is
    
    substantial. It is set out in significant detail in the district court’s most recent opinion,
    
    see Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 794-815, as well as in our two prior opinions. Here,
    
    we briefly review the case history with a focus on those arguments and developments
    
    that are relevant to the question before us today.
    
           1.      Genesis of This Dispute
    
           Starting in the late 1980’s, the Department of the Air Force contracted with Rothe
    
    to maintain, operate, and repair computer systems at Columbus Air Force Base in
    
    Mississippi.   In the late 1990’s, the Air Force decided to consolidate Rothe’s contract
    
    with a contract for communications services, to issue a solicitation for competitive bids,
    
    and to let the contract pursuant to the Section 1207 program. Rothe, owned by a
    
    Caucasian female, bid $5.57 million. International Computer and Telecommunications,
    
    Inc. (“ICT”), a competitor to Rothe owned by a Korean-American couple and certified as
    
    a SDB, bid $5.75 million. Although Rothe’s bid was lower than ICT’s bid and was in fact
    
    the lowest bid, the Air Force considered Rothe’s bid to be $6.1 million, higher than ICT’s
    
    bid, because of the PEA. Therefore the Air Force awarded the contract to ICT. See
    
    Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 780-83.
    
           2.      Rothe’s Suit and the First Appeal—Rothe I, Rothe II, and Rothe III
    
           Rothe filed suit against DOD in November of 1998, and moved for a preliminary
    
    injunction against DOD’s award of the contract to ICT. The district court denied Rothe’s
    
    motion, and on February 2, 1999, Rothe filed its First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). The
    
    FAC, which is still the operative complaint in this case, included claims for (1) a
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    9
    declaratory judgment that Section 1207 is unconstitutional on its face, (2) an injunction
    
    prohibiting DOD from proceeding with the contract Rothe had lost to ICT, and (3)
    
    recovery of Rothe’s bid preparation costs, “in an amount not to exceed $10,000,” under
    
    the Little Tucker Act.
    
           On April 27, 1999, the district court granted summary judgment to DOD,
    
    upholding the constitutionality of Section 1207 and denying Rothe any relief. Rothe
    
    Dev. Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., 
    49 F. Supp. 2d 937
    , 954 (W.D. Tex. 1999) (Prado, J.)
    
    (“Rothe I”). Rothe appealed to the Fifth Circuit, and DOD moved to dismiss the appeal
    
    or to transfer it to the Federal Circuit because of Rothe’s Tucker Act claim. On October
    
    27, 1999, the Fifth Circuit transferred the appeal to us, explaining that the Federal
    
    Circuit had exclusive appellate jurisdiction because the district court’s jurisdiction in
    
    Rothe I was based in part on the Little Tucker Act. Rothe Dev. Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of
    
    Def., 
    194 F.3d 622
    , 625 (5th Cir. 1999) (“Rothe II”).
    
           We heard oral argument on November 8, 2000, and issued our opinion on
    
    August 20, 2001. Rothe Dev. Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., 
    262 F.3d 1306
     (Fed. Cir.
    
    2001) (“Rothe III”).     We agreed with the Fifth Circuit that appellate jurisdiction lay
    
    exclusively in the Federal Circuit, id. at 1316, but we did not affirm or reverse the district
    
    court on the merits.       Rather, we vacated and remanded for further proceedings,
    
    because “the district court improperly applied a deferential legal standard rather than
    
    ‘strict scrutiny,’ and also impermissibly relied on post-reauthorization evidence to
    
    support [Section 1207’s] constitutionality as reauthorized.” Id. at 1312. We directed the
    
    district court to apply strict scrutiny on remand, “particularly in accordance with the
    
    principles set forth in [Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 
    488 U.S. 469
     (1989) and Adarand
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    10
    Constructors v. Peña, 
    515 U.S. 200
    , 226 (1995) (‘Adarand III’)].” Rothe III, 262 F.3d at
    
    1329.
    
            3.     The Second Judgment and Appeal—Rothe IV and Rothe V
    
            On remand, DOD moved to dismiss Rothe’s claims as moot in light of factual
    
    developments since the decision in Rothe I, namely: (1) the contract at issue had been
    
    superseded by a replacement contract, which was put up for bid outside of the Section
    
    1207 program, with Rothe rebidding and losing to a lower bidder; (2) DOD had offered
    
    to tender $10,000 to Rothe, the full amount Rothe could recover on its Little Tucker Act
    
    claim; and (3) the PEA had been serially suspended since 1999. On July 5, 2002, the
    
    district court granted DOD’s motion in part, agreeing that Rothe’s Little Tucker Act claim
    
    and its requests for an injunction against further work on the contract and for an
    
    equitable award of the contract were moot, but holding that Rothe could still maintain its
    
    claims for declaratory judgments that Section 1207 is unconstitutional on its face and
    
    was unconstitutional as applied to Rothe in 1998. Rothe Dev. Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of
    
    Def., No. 5:98-cv-01011-XR, Docket No. 98 (W.D. Texas).
    
            In 2003, the district court issued a series of discovery orders that unintentionally
    
    but improperly limited discovery regarding Rothe’s facial challenge.         These orders
    
    repeatedly referenced the 1992 reenactment of Section 1207 (which was in effect in
    
    1998, the relevant time for Rothe’s as-applied challenge), and were construed by the
    
    parties to prohibit some discovery relevant to the facial constitutionality of Section 1207,
    
    i.e., discovery related to the evidence before Congress during the statute’s 2002
    
    reenactment. See Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 812 & n.39 (acknowledging that “taken
    
    out of context, some loose language in those three discovery orders could be construed
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    11
    to limit the issues on remand,” but maintaining that scope of discovery “could have been
    
    resolved in a one-page motion for clarification” had the parties chosen to file one).
    
           On July 2, 2004, the district court issued an opinion on Rothe’s remaining claims.
    
    Rothe Dev. Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., 
    324 F. Supp. 2d 840
     (W.D. Tex. 2004)
    
    (Rodriguez, J.) (“Rothe IV”).    The district court held that Section 1207 was indeed
    
    unconstitutional as applied in 1998, because DOD failed to demonstrate that there was
    
    sufficient statistical evidence of discrimination before Congress when the statute was
    
    reenacted in 1992.     Id. at 850.    But the district court held that the statute was
    
    constitutional on its face, because there was sufficient statistical evidence of
    
    discrimination before Congress when the statute was then most recently reenacted in
    
    2002. Id. at 860. In a separate opinion, in August of 2004, the district court also
    
    declined to award Rothe attorney’s fees on its as-applied challenge. Rothe Dev. Corp.
    
    v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., No. SA-98-CA-1011-XR, 
    2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17305
    , at *7 (W.D.
    
    Tex. Aug. 31, 2004).
    
           Rothe appealed. We heard argument on March 7, 2005, and issued an opinion
    
    on June 28, 2005. Rothe Dev. Corp. v. Dep’t of Def., 
    413 F.3d 1327
     (Fed. Cir. 2005)
    
    (“Rothe V”). We vacated the district court’s holding that Rothe’s Little Tucker Act claim
    
    was moot, explaining that DOD’s offer to tender $10,000 did not moot the claim
    
    because an actual tender is required for mootness, and the DOD had not yet tendered
    
    the money. Id. at 1331-32. We affirmed the district court’s holding that Rothe’s claim
    
    for an equitable award of the contract was moot, but for slightly different reasons than
    
    given by the district court. Id. at 1332. In our view, the claim was moot because the
    
    disputed contract expired in 2001, not merely because it had been rebid outside of the
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                   12
    Section 1207 program. Id.       And we affirmed the district court’s holding that Rothe’s
    
    facial challenge was not moot, explaining that though the PEA has been serially
    
    suspended since 1999, it will only continue to be suspended as long as DOD meets the
    
    five percent goal, which is not a certainty. Id. at 1333.
    
           But, as in Rothe III, in Rothe V we did not rule on the merits of Rothe’s facial
    
    challenge.   Rather, we explained that the district court’s ruling on Rothe’s facial
    
    challenge in Rothe IV was an unwarranted sua sponte grant of summary judgment.
    
    DOD had moved to dismiss Rothe’s facial challenge as moot, but DOD had not asked
    
    the district court to reach the merits of Rothe’s facial challenge, and thus the district
    
    court’s ruling on the merits, in combination with the court’s errant discovery orders, had
    
    unfairly deprived DOD of “an opportunity to introduce its evidence and arguments” on
    
    the facial challenge. Rothe V, 413 F.3d at 1336; id. at 1335 (noting that DOD agreed
    
    with Rothe “that the district court’s findings and legal analysis do not support a holding
    
    that the present reauthorization of section 1207 is facially constitutional”). Because “the
    
    district court’s discovery orders [had] clearly limited the issues to exclude the present
    
    reauthorization of section 1207,” we held that “the government was not on notice that it
    
    was required to come forward with all of its evidence,” and we therefore vacated the
    
    grant of summary judgment. Id.
    
           Though we remanded the case “for development of the record,” id. at 1339, we
    
    preemptively addressed three specific questions pertinent to the facial challenge. First,
    
    we held that United States v. Salerno, 
    481 U.S. 739
     (1987), in which the Court stated
    
    that, to win a facial challenge, a challenger “must establish that no set of circumstances
    
    exists under which the Act would be valid,” was a pronouncement “of limited relevance
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    13
    here, at most describing a conclusion that could result from the application of the strict
    
    scrutiny test.” Rothe V, 413 F.3d at 1337-38. Second, we confirmed that the district
    
    court could not rely on any evidence that was not before Congress in 2002. Id. at 1338
    
    (“[T]o be relevant in the strict scrutiny analysis, the evidence must be proven to have
    
    been before Congress prior to enactment of the racial classification.”). And third, we
    
    clarified that Rothe’s argument to exclude certain statistical evidence as stale “relates to
    
    whether the data itself is ‘outdated,’ . . . not [to] whether Congress was aware of the
    
    data,” and thus “the district court should consider on remand whether the data
    
    presented is so outdated that it does not provide a strong basis in evidence for the most
    
    recent reauthorization of section 1207.” Id.
    
           Finally, we held that Rothe failed to preserve for appeal the issue of attorney fees
    
    for its successful as-applied challenge, because Rothe had improperly attempted to
    
    incorporate arguments into its opening brief by reference to the Joint Appendix, rather
    
    than articulating substantive arguments in the brief. Id. at 1339.
    
           4.     The Third Judgment and Appeal—Rothe VI
    
           On July 28, 2005, one month after our decision in Rothe V, Rothe moved in the
    
    district court for a preliminary injunction against DOD’s continued use of any race-based
    
    procurement programs. The district court denied that motion and Rothe’s motion for
    
    reconsideration, and noted that Rothe was now attempting to challenge not only the
    
    PEA mechanism, but also the other provisions of Section 1207. See Rothe Dev. Corp.
    
    v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., No. SA-98-CA-1011-XR, 
    2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53738
    , at *3 (W.D.
    
    Tex. July 24, 2006). The court wrote that
    
           Rothe also objects to the following elements of the § 1207 program: (1)
           subcontracting incentive programs; (2) awards using less than full and
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                   14
           open competition/set asides to the designated groups of 10 U.S.C. §
           2323(a) with no competition, to include awards under section 8(a) of the
           Small Business Act; (3) advance payments; (4) assistance as provided in
           10 U.S.C. § 2323(c); and (5) the provision of SDB status to historically
           black colleges and universities.
    
    
    Id. (internal footnotes and quotations omitted).       Though Rothe had only made its
    
    additional objections clear to the district court “for the first time” in 2005, the court held
    
    that it would consider the new arguments to be within the parameters of the FAC. Id.;
    
    see also Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 814 (“Prior to the filing of the motion for
    
    reconsideration, this Court had always construed Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint as
    
    objecting only to the PEA. . . . Nevertheless, the Court stated that it would consider
    
    Rothe’s challenge to the entire 1207 Program as coming within the parameters of the
    
    current complaint.” (footnote omitted).
    
           Because Section 1207 was reenacted in January of 2006, see National Defense
    
    Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-163, § 842, 119 Stat. 3136 (Jan.
    
    6, 2006), the district court directed the parties “to present what, if any, [non-stale]
    
    evidence was before Congress at the time of this 2006 reauthorization,” and allowed
    
    Rothe to conduct some additional discovery for that purpose. 
    2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53738
    , at *14-15.      After that discovery, Rothe moved for summary judgment on
    
    September 8, 2006, and DOD cross-moved for summary judgment on November 6,
    
    2006. See Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 815.
    
           On August 10, 2007, the district court granted summary judgment to DOD on
    
    Rothe’s facial challenge. Id. at 883. In light of the 2006 reenactment, the district court
    
    held that the facial constitutionality of the 1999 and 2002 reenactments were moot and
    
    outside the scope of our remand in Rothe V, and that the proper question was the facial
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    15
    constitutionality of Section 1207 as reenacted in 2006. Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at
    
    818-25. On the merits, the court applied strict scrutiny and upheld the statute against
    
    Rothe’s facial challenge, concluding that Congress sought to further a compelling
    
    interest supported by a “strong basis in evidence,” and that the statute was narrowly
    
    tailored to that interest. Id. at 835-83. We will review this holding in detail below.
    
           In Rothe VI, the district court also addressed Rothe’s claim under the Little
    
    Tucker Act, which DOD had previously attempted to satisfy by offering to tender
    
    $10,000 to Rothe. Recounting our holding in Rothe V that this claim would not be moot
    
    until DOD “produced the subject matter of the tender, e.g., by providing Rothe with a
    
    $10,000 check or depositing such a check with the court,” Rothe V, 413 F.3d at
    
    1331-32, the district court ordered DOD to deposit $10,000 with the court registry as a
    
    formal act of tender, and held that “[i]t is unnecessary for the Court to render a judgment
    
    on the merits of Rothe’s Little Tucker Act [c]laim because the claim will become moot
    
    after the Government deposits $10,000 into the registry of the Court.” Rothe VI, 499 F.
    
    Supp. 2d at 817.
    
           Thereafter, on September 20, 2007, DOD deposited $10,000 into the court
    
    registry, and Rothe made a motion to disburse the money a few days later. The court
    
    granted Rothe’s motion on September 25, 2007, and entered final judgment for DOD
    
    that same day. Rothe filed a timely notice of appeal on September 27, 2007.
    
                                           DISCUSSION
    
    A.     Jurisdiction and Rothe’s Tucker Act Claim
    
           Before turning to the merits of Rothe’s appeal, we briefly explain why appellate
    
    jurisdiction lies exclusively in this Court rather than in the Fifth Circuit. With certain
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    16
    exceptions not relevant here, we possess appellate jurisdiction “of an appeal from a
    
    final decision of a district court of the United States . . . if the jurisdiction of that court
    
    was based, in whole or in part, on [28 U.S.C. § 1346, known as the Tucker Act.]” 28
    
    U.S.C. § 1295(a)(2).     In Rothe III, we possessed jurisdiction because Rothe’s FAC
    
    contained a claim for recovery of Rothe’s bid preparation costs under the Tucker Act.
    
    See Rothe III, 262 F.3d at 1316 (“As a suit to recover its bid preparation costs, Rothe’s
    
    complaint invoked the Tucker Act. Thus, this court has exclusive jurisdiction over all
    
    issues Rothe raises in this appeal.”).
    
           Rothe’s claim under the Tucker Act is no longer at issue; it has been satisfied by
    
    DOD’s tender, and Rothe’s acceptance, of $10,000. We retain appellate jurisdiction,
    
    however, because under 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(2), as under § 1295(a)(1) (regarding
    
    patent law), “[t]he path of appeal is determined by the basis of jurisdiction in the district
    
    court, and is not controlled by . . . the substance of the issues that are appealed.”
    
    Abbott Labs. v. Brennan, 
    952 F.2d 1346
    , 1349-50 (Fed. Cir. 1991). Of course, the basis
    
    of a district court’s jurisdiction—and thus the path of appeal—may change over time in a
    
    case, for example, if certain claims are dismissed without prejudice to later refiling.
    
    See, e.g., Nilssen v. Motorola, Inc., 
    203 F.3d 782
    , 785 (Fed. Cir. 2000); Gronholz v.
    
    Sears, Roebuck & Co., 
    836 F.2d 515
    , 518 (Fed. Cir. 1987).              But that is not what
    
    happened here. Rather, Rothe’s claim under the Tucker Act was satisfied, and thus
    
    may not be refiled later. Cf. Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Techs., Inc., 
    381 F.3d 1178
    , 1190 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (“Dismissals divest this court of jurisdiction only if ‘[t]he
    
    parties were left in the same legal position with respect to [all] patent claims as if they
    
    had never been filed.’” (quoting Nilssen., 203 F.3d at 285)).
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                     17
           Further, although the district court explicitly declined to render a judgment on the
    
    merits of Rothe’s Tucker Act claim, Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 817, the district court
    
    ordered DOD to deposit $10,000 with the court in satisfaction of that claim, and thus the
    
    court changed the positions of the parties with respect to that claim. Cf. Chamberlain
    
    Group, 381 F.3d at 1190 (“[W]henever the complaint included a patent claim and the
    
    trial court’s rulings altered the legal status of the parties with respect to that patent
    
    claim, we retain appellate jurisdiction over all pendent claims in the complaint.”).
    
    Therefore, jurisdiction is proper in this Court.
    
    B.     Rothe’s Facial Challenge
    
           We now turn to the merits of Rothe’s appeal. Rothe argues that Section 1207,
    
    on its face as reenacted in 2006, violates the right to equal protection, that the district
    
    court was wrong to conclude otherwise, and that the district court was wrong to grant
    
    summary judgment to DOD instead of to Rothe. We agree with Rothe, and will reverse
    
    the judgment of the district court in this respect. 4
    
    
    
    
           4
                   Rothe claims, without support, that the district court should have also
    declared the statute unconstitutional as reenacted in 1999 and 2002. We agree with the
    district court that the facial constitutionality of these earlier enactments is a moot
    question; they have been superceded by the 2006 reenactment and are no longer the
    law. Thus, “a declaratory judgment on the validity of these intervening reauthorizations
    is ‘a textbook example of advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of
    facts.’” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 783 (quoting Concrete Works of Colo., Inc. v. City
    & County of Denver, 
    321 F.3d 950
    , 954 n.1 (10th Cir. 2003)). Rothe’s facial challenge
    to the 2006 reenactment, however, is not moot. While the PEA has been suspended
    since 1999 and will continue to be suspended until March 9, 2009, the 2006
    reenactment of Section 1207 will remain in effect until September 30, 2009 (i.e., the end
    of the fiscal year), and it is not absolutely certain that the PEA will be suspended for the
    period between March 9 and September 30, 2009. See Rothe V, 413 F.3d at 1334
    (“[B]ecause the government has not proven that the suspension of the price-evaluation
    adjustment will remain in place, it has failed to prove mootness.”).
    
    
    2008-1017                                     18
           1.     Standard of Review and Strict Scrutiny Framework
    
           Though we possess jurisdiction over this appeal, Rothe’s facial challenge does
    
    not implicate matters within our exclusive jurisdiction, and we will apply the law of the
    
    Fifth Circuit. 5 Hutchins v. Zoll Med. Corp., 
    492 F.3d 1377
    , 1383 (Fed. Cir. 2007). We
    
    will review the district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo, “applying the same
    
    criteria used by the district court in the first instance.” W.H. Scott Constr. Co. v. City of
    
    Jackson, 
    199 F.3d 206
    , 211 (5th Cir. 1999). Summary judgment is appropriate “if the
    
    pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
    
    there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to
    
    judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
    
           Because Section 1207 incorporates an explicit racial classification—the
    
    presumption that members of certain minority groups are “socially disadvantaged” for
    
    purposes of obtaining SDB status and the benefits that flow from that status under
    
    Section 1207 itself—the statute is subject to strict scrutiny. See Parents Involved in
    
    Cmty. Sch. v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 
    127 S. Ct. 2738
    , 2751 (2007) (“It is well
    
    established that when the government distributes burdens or benefits on the basis of
    
    individual racial classifications, that action is reviewed under strict scrutiny.”). Thus, to
    
    survive Rothe’s facial challenge, Section 1207 “must serve a compelling governmental
    
    interest, and must be narrowly tailored to further that interest.” Adarand III, 515 U.S. at
    
    235; Rothe III, 262 F.3d at 1322 (“Strict scrutiny is a single standard and must be
    
    followed here.”).
    
    
    
           5
                 We note that while we stand in the shoes of the Fifth Circuit, the bulk of
    relevant, controlling authority comes directly from the Supreme Court, and we have
    interpreted much of that authority in our prior opinions in this case.
    
    
    2008-1017                                    19
           The Supreme Court has held that government may have a compelling interest in
    
    “remedying the effects of past or present racial discrimination.” Shaw v. Hunt, 
    517 U.S. 899
    , 909 (1996); see also Croson, 488 U.S. at 492 (“It is beyond dispute that any public
    
    entity, state or federal, has a compelling interest in assuring that public dollars, drawn
    
    from the tax contributions of all citizens, do not serve to finance the evil of private
    
    prejudice.”). However, “an effort to alleviate the effects of societal discrimination is not a
    
    compelling interest.” Shaw, 517 U.S. at 909-10. Therefore, before resorting to race-
    
    conscious measures, the government must “identify [the] discrimination [to be
    
    remedied], public or private, with some specificity,” and must have a “strong basis in
    
    evidence” upon which “to conclude that remedial action [is] necessary.” Croson, 488
    
    U.S. at 500, 504; see also Wygant v. Jackson Bd. of Educ., 
    476 U.S. 267
    , 274-77
    
    (1986).
    
           Although the party challenging a statute bears the ultimate burden of persuading
    
    the court that it is unconstitutional, the government first bears a burden to produce
    
    strong evidence supporting the legislature’s decision to employ race-conscious action.
    
    See Rothe III, 262 F.3d at 1317. “[T]he court must review the government’s evidentiary
    
    support to determine whether the legislative body had a ‘strong basis in evidence’ to
    
    believe that remedial action based on race was necessary.” Id.; see also Wygant, 476
    
    U.S. at 278.
    
           Even where there is a compelling interest supported by a strong basis in
    
    evidence, the statute must be narrowly tailored to further that interest.          A narrow
    
    tailoring analysis commonly involves six factors: “(1) the necessity of relief; (2) the
    
    efficacy of alternative, race-neutral remedies; (3) the flexibility of relief, including the
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    20
    availability of waiver provisions; (4) the relationship of the stated numerical goals to the
    
    relevant labor market; (5) the impact of relief on the rights of third parties; and (6) the
    
    overinclusiveness or underinclusiveness of the racial classification.” Rothe III, 262 F.3d
    
    at 1331; see also Adarand III, 515 U.S. at 238-39; Croson, 488 U.S. at 506; United
    
    States v. Paradise, 
    480 U.S. 149
    , 171 (1987).
    
           2.     Compelling Interest—Strong Basis in Evidence
    
           Here, the district court concluded that “the Government has satisfied its burden of
    
    producing a strong basis in the evidence for remedial action.” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 877. In particular, the district court held that the non-stale statistical and anecdotal
    
    evidence before Congress “constitute[d] prima facie proof of a nationwide pattern or
    
    practice of discrimination in both public and private contracting,” and that the
    
    “[s]tatistical evidence supports the conclusion that African Americans, Hispanic
    
    Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans are currently and have been
    
    subject to discrimination in state and local contracting throughout the United States,”
    
    including “in Rothe’s relevant industry-professional services.” Id. at 877-78.
    
           This statistical and anecdotal evidence, discussed by the district court in some
    
    detail, included the following: six disparity studies of state or local contracting,
    
    conducted by private research and consulting firms between 2002 and 2005 at the
    
    behest of state or local government in the cities of Dallas, Cincinnati, and New York, in
    
    Cuyahoga County, Ohio and Alameda County, California, and in the Commonwealth of
    
    Virginia; see id. at 835-64; a September 2005 study by the United States Commission
    
    on Civil Rights (“USCCR”) titled “Federal Procurement After Adarand,” see id. at
    
    864-65; letters from individual business owners describing incidents of perceived
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    21
    discrimination in state, local, and private contracting, see id. at 865-68; various
    
    anecdotes regarding discrimination recounted by members of Congress in floor
    
    statements or remarks, see id. at 868-69; testimony by small business owners before
    
    the House Small Business Committee in 2001 and 2004, see id. at 869-71; and three
    
    reports from the Small Business Administration—two from 2005 and one from 2000—
    
    regarding the ownership and success rates of small businesses, see id. at 871-72.
    
          The district court also discussed three sources of statistical analysis that were
    
    available to Congress in 2006, but were based on data gathered many years earlier,
    
    between the late 1980’s and mid 1990’s, namely: the appendix to a 1996 Department of
    
    Justice Study, see Proposed Reforms to Affirmative Action in Federal Procurement,
    
    Appendix—The Compelling Interest for Affirmative Action in Federal Procurement: A
    
    Preliminary Survey, 61 Fed. Reg. 26,042, 26,050 (May 23, 1996) (the “Appendix“); a
    
    1997 report by the Urban Institute titled Do Minority-Owned Businesses Get a Fair
    
    Share of Government Contracts? (the “Urban Institute Report”); 6 and the 1998
    
    Department of Commerce Benchmark Study, see supra note 2. However, the district
    
    court found that “the data contained in the Appendix, the Urban Institute Report, and the
    
    Benchmark Study is stale for purposes of strict scrutiny review of the 2006
    
    Reauthorization,” and therefore the court concluded that it “[would] not rely on those
    
    three reports as evidence of a compelling interest for the 2006 Reauthorization of the
    
    1207 Program.” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 875. DOD does not challenge this finding
    
    on appeal, DOD Br. at 49 n.13, so we will not consider the Appendix, the Urban Institute
    
    Report, or the Department of Commerce Benchmark Study, and will instead determine
    
          6
                  Available at http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/DMOBGFSGC.pdf (last
    visited Sept. 27, 2008).
    
    
    2008-1017                                  22
    whether the evidence relied on by the district court is indeed sufficient to demonstrate a
    
    compelling interest.
    
                  a.       Six State and Local Disparity Studies
    
           The primary focus of the district court’s compelling interest analysis, and of the
    
    parties’ arguments on appeal, is the evidentiary strength of six particular disparity
    
    studies conducted at the state or local level. A disparity study, in this context, is a study
    
    attempting to measure the difference—or disparity—between the number of contracts or
    
    contract dollars actually awarded to minority-owned businesses in a particular contract
    
    market, on the one hand, and the number of contracts or contract dollars that one would
    
    expect to be awarded to minority-owned business given their presence in that particular
    
    contract market, on the other hand. Disparity studies can be relevant to the compelling
    
    interest analysis because, as Justice O’Connor has explained, “[w]here there is a
    
    significant statistical disparity between the number of qualified minority contractors
    
    willing and able to perform a particular service and the number of such contractors
    
    actually engaged by [a] locality or the locality’s prime contractors, an inference of
    
    discriminatory exclusion could arise.” Croson, 488 U.S. at 509; see also W.H. Scott
    
    Constr., 199 F.3d at 218 (“Given Croson’s emphasis on statistical evidence, other
    
    courts considering equal protection challenges to minority-participation programs have
    
    looked to disparity indices, or to computations of disparity percentages, in determining
    
    whether Croson’s evidentiary burden is satisfied.”).
    
           Here, the district court reviewed the parameters and findings of one state-wide
    
    and five local disparity studies, and concluded that these studies “analyze evidence of
    
    discrimination from a diverse cross-section of jurisdictions across the United States, and
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    23
    they constitute prima facie evidence of a nation-wide pattern or practice of
    
    discrimination in public and private contracting.” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 838-39.
    
    On appeal, Rothe argues that the district court was wrong to rely on these studies
    
    because (1) the data analyzed by the studies was stale by the time of the 2006
    
    reenactment, (2) the studies were not truly “before Congress,” (3) the studies are
    
    methodologically flawed and therefore unreliable, and (4) the studies do not establish
    
    that DOD itself has played any role in the discriminatory exclusion of minority-owned
    
    contractors. We will address each argument in turn.
    
                         i.     Staleness
    
           Rothe argues that “[t]he extremely great weight of authority” holds that data more
    
    than five years old is necessarily stale for purposes of measuring contracting disparities,
    
    and that therefore “most of the data in most of the six studies and all of the data in some
    
    of the studies was stale” by the time of the 2006 reenactment. Rothe Br. at 29-30. 7
    
    Rothe points to the recommendation of the USCCR that “Federal officials must discard
    
    disparity studies conducted using data that is more than five years old,” 8 and to the
    
    statements of experts relied on by the USCCR in reaching this recommendation
    
    (including Professor George R. La Noue, Rothe’s expert in previous stages of this
    
    case). Beyond the USCCR report, however, Rothe points to no judicial authority finding
    
    
    
    
           7
                   In the aggregate, the studies covered data pertaining to contracts awarded
    as early as 1995 and as late as 2003. See Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 839 (New York
    City data from 1997-2002; Alameda County data from 2000-2003; Cuyahoga County
    data from 1998-2000; Dallas data from 1997-2000; Cincinnati data from 1995-2001;
    Virginia data from 1997-2002).
            8
                   USCCR, Disparity Studies as Evidence of Discrimination in Federal
    Contracting 79 (May 2006) (“USCCR Disparity Studies”), available at
    http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/DisparityStudies5-2006.pdf (last visited Sept. 27, 2008).
    
    
    2008-1017                                   24
    that data more than five years old is stale per se, and we decline to adopt such a per se
    
    rule here.
    
           Indeed, as the district court noted, other circuit courts have relied on studies
    
    containing data more than five years old when conducting compelling interest analyses.
    
    See Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 839 n.86; W. States Paving Co. v. Wash. State Dep’t
    
    of Transp., 
    407 F.3d 983
    , 992 (9th Cir. 2005) (relying on the Appendix, published in
    
    1996); Sherbrooke Turf, Inc. v. Minn. Dep’t of Transp., 
    345 F.3d 964
    , 970 (8th Cir.
    
    2003) (same). Here, the district court considered the USCCR’s recommendation but
    
    declined to follow it, explaining that the court “must realistically focus on the availability
    
    of current data,” and finding that the data used in the six studies is not stale because it
    
    “was the most current data available at the time that these studies were performed
    
    [between 2002 and 2005].” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 840. While we certainly agree
    
    with the USSCR that researchers should use current data when possible, we agree with
    
    the district court that Congress “should be able to rely on the most recently available
    
    data so long as that data is reasonably up-to-date.” Id.; see also Rothe III, 262 F.3d at
    
    1331 (whether evidence is stale “is a factual question for the district court to resolve”).
    
    Because these disparity studies analyzed data pertaining to contracts awarded as
    
    recently as 2000 or even 2003, and because Rothe does not point to more recent,
    
    available data, 9 we affirm the district court’s conclusion that the data analyzed in these
    
    six disparity studies was not stale at the relevant time.
    
    
    
           9
                  Rothe notes that DOD and the SBA collect data on the race of certain
    subcontractors, and implies that this data is more recent than the data analyzed in the
    disparity studies. Rothe Br. at 5. But Rothe concedes that DOD does not yet “centrally
    access” this data, and thus Rothe fails to establish that DOD could have compiled this
    data for Congress at the time of the 2006 reenactment. Id.
    
    
    2008-1017                                    25
                         ii.    “Before Congress”
    
           Rothe next argues that the district court was wrong to rely on the six disparity
    
    studies because “[t]here is no proof [the studies] were ever ‘before’ Congress,” or that
    
    they were ever “subject to any kind of analysis, hearing, or findings.” Rothe Br. at 27.
    
    In Rothe V, we explained that for evidence to be relevant in the strict scrutiny analysis, it
    
    “must be proven to have been before Congress prior to enactment of the racial
    
    classification.” 413 F.3d at 1338. It would be error for the district court to rely on
    
    studies without “a finding that [they] were put before Congress prior to the date of the
    
    present reauthorization in relation to section 1207 and to ground its enactment.” Id.
    
    Taking note of our holding, the district court found in Rothe VI that “[a]lthough the full
    
    text of these six disparity studies was not printed in the Congressional Record, . . . the
    
    repeated reference to these studies in Congressional hearings and floor debates
    
    indicates that these studies were before Congress.” 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 839 n.83. The
    
    district court cited floor speeches by Senator Ted Kennedy and Representative Cynthia
    
    McKinney, in which these members of Congress referred to the six disparity studies by
    
    title, author, and date. See id. at 835-38. 10 Beyond these floor speeches, however, the
    
    district court did not identify any further references to the studies in Congressional
    
    proceedings—in particular, the court did not identify a single hearing at which the
    
    studies were named or discussed. On appeal, DOD does not identify any hearings to
    
    which the district court might have been referring, and Rothe contends—apparently
    
           10
                   For example, Senator Kennedy stated in a floor speech on November 10,
    2005, that “[y]ears of Congressional hearings have shown that minorities historically
    have been excluded from both public and private construction contracts in general,” and
    later stated that “[such] problems are detailed in many recent disparity studies, including
    [the six studies at issue here].” 151 Cong. Rec. S12668-01, 
    2005 WL 3018127
     (Nov.
    10, 2005).
    
    2008-1017                                    26
    uncontroverted by DOD—that these six studies were not in fact discussed at any
    
    Congressional    hearings.       Audio    Recording    of   Oral    Arg.,   available   at
    
    http://oralarguments.cafc.uscourts.gov/mp3/2008-1017.mp3, at 10:30-11:00.
    
          Although we are mindful that Congress has broad discretion to regulate its
    
    internal proceedings, see Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Employees v. United States, 
    330 F.3d 513
    , 522 (D.C. Cir. 2003), we are hesitant to conclude that the mere mention of a
    
    statistical study in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate
    
    is sufficient to put the study “before Congress” for purposes of Congress’ obligation to
    
    amass a “strong basis in evidence” for race-conscious action. We recognize that there
    
    is no dispute that these six studies were completed prior to the 2006 reenactment of
    
    Section 1207, and in that sense they were indeed “before” the acting legislature. But
    
    beyond their mere mention, there is no indication that these studies were debated or
    
    reviewed by members of Congress or by any witnesses. Cf. Sherbrooke Turf, 345 F.3d
    
    at 969-70 (relying on the Appendix, itself “a Department of Justice summary of more
    
    than fifty documents and thirty congressional hearings on minority-owned businesses
    
    prepared in response to the Adarand decision” (emphasis added)).            And because
    
    Congress made no findings concerning these studies, we cannot even broach the
    
    question of whether to defer to Congress in any respect regarding them. 11 Cf. Croson,
    
    488 U.S. at 500 (“The factfinding process of legislative bodies is generally entitled to a
    
    presumption of regularity and deferential review by the judiciary. . . . But when a
    
    
    
          11
                   Findings regarding the disparity studies, however, are to be distinguished
    from formal findings of discrimination by DOD, which Congress was emphatically not
    required to make. See Dean v. City of Shreveport, 
    438 F.3d 448
    , 455 (5th Cir. 2006)
    (“[T]he government need not incriminate itself with a formal finding of discrimination
    prior to using a race-conscious remedy.”).
    
    
    2008-1017                                  27
    legislative body chooses to employ a suspect classification, it cannot rest upon a
    
    generalized assertion as to the classification’s relevance to its goals.”).
    
           Ultimately, however, we need not decide whether these six studies were put
    
    before Congress, because we will hold in any event that the studies do not provide a
    
    substantially probative and broad-based statistical foundation necessary for the “strong
    
    basis in evidence” that must be the predicate for nationwide, race-conscious action.
    
                         iii.   Methodology
    
           Rothe contends that the six disparity studies contain methodological defects,
    
    relating primarily to the studies’ availability analyses, which render their conclusions
    
    about the existence of certain disparities unreliable. The district court acknowledged
    
    Rothe’s contentions, but rejected them as unsupported by “expert report[s] or other
    
    competent summary judgment evidence.” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
    . at 847; see also
    
    id. at 847 n.96 (“None of [Rothe’s] expert reports address the six disparity studies cited
    
    by McKinney and Kennedy in support of the 2006 Reauthorization.”); id. at 848 (“Rothe
    
    failed to rebut the statistical evidence contained in any of the six disparity studies with
    
    ‘credible, particularized’ evidence from its own expert reports.”); id. at 851 (“Rothe’s
    
    generalized objections regarding the alleged deficiencies of the Ohio Disparity Study
    
    are conclusory and are not competent summary judgment evidence.”); id. at 859 (“[T]he
    
    argument of counsel regarding the alleged deficiencies of the [Cincinnati] study are not
    
    competent summary judgment evidence.”).
    
           This was error. In Rothe III, we instructed the district court to “undertake the
    
    same type of detailed, skeptical, non-deferential analysis undertaken by the Croson
    
    Court,” because “Congress is entitled to no deference in determining whether Congress
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    28
    had a compelling interest in enacting the racial classification” (as opposed to deference
    
    in the conduct of its factfinding proceedings). 262 F.3d at 1321. Many of Rothe’s
    
    objections to the six disparity studies at issue here are of the same general character as
    
    the objections articulated by Justice O’Connor to the statistical evidence offered by the
    
    government in Croson—i.e., objections to the parameters used to select the relevant
    
    pool of contractors. The potential pitfalls of race-conscious legislation are far too great
    
    for a court to dismiss such objections as incompetently offered, rather than to address
    
    them on their merits. See Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 
    438 U.S. 265
    , 291 (1978)
    
    (opinion of Powell, J.) (“Racial and ethnic distinctions of any sort are inherently suspect
    
    and thus call for the most exacting judicial examination.”), quoted in Parents Involved,
    
    127 S. Ct. at 2764-65 (2007); Fullilove v. Klutznick, 
    448 U.S. 448
    , 491 (1990) (“Any
    
    preference based on racial or ethnic criteria must necessarily receive a most searching
    
    examination.”), quoted in Adarand III, 515 U.S. at 223, and Wygant, 476 U.S. at 273
    
    (plurality opinion of Powell, J.).
    
           Rather than remand this case a third time, however, we will consider here
    
    whether these studies are sufficiently probative for purposes of Congress’ burden to
    
    amass a “strong basis in evidence.” We note that although there are six studies, four of
    
    them were conducted by the same research consultant—Mason Tillman Associates—
    
    and employ very similar methodologies. The two remaining studies—the Cincinnati
    
    study, by Griffin & Strong, and the Virginia study, by MGT of America—are similar to the
    
    others in some basic respects.
    
           As the district court explained, all of the studies sought to calculate a ratio
    
    “between the expected contract amount of a given race/gender group and the actual
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                   29
    contract amount received by that group.“ Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 842 (citing the
    
    New York City study). In general, “[a] disparity ratio less than 0.80”—i.e., a finding that
    
    a given minority group received less than eighty percent of the expected amount—
    
    “indicates a relevant degree of disparity,” and might support an inference of
    
    discrimination. Id.; see, e.g., Eng’g Contractors Ass’n of S. Fla., Inc. v. Metro. Dade
    
    County, 
    122 F.3d 895
    , 914 (11th Cir. 1997) (“In general . . . disparity indices of 80%
    
    [i.e., 0.80] or greater, which are close to full participation, are not considered indications
    
    of discrimination.”). The district court reviewed the various disparity ratios found by
    
    each of the six studies for each of several minority groups in each of several industry
    
    categories, see Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 835-64, and we will not repeat them all.
    
    For example, however, the New York City study determined that Black Americans
    
    represented 16.72% of available construction firms but received only 1.7% of prime
    
    construction contract dollars, a statistically significant underutilization which can be
    
    expressed as a disparity ratio of 0.10.       Other disparity ratios found by the studies
    
    included, for further example, 0.30 for Asian American firms in Alameda County
    
    construction subcontracts, 0.03 for Hispanic firms in Virginia professional services
    
    contracts, and 0.14 for Native American firms in Cincinnati supplies and services
    
    contracts during fiscal year 2000.
    
           Rothe’s primary objection to the six disparity studies regards their availability
    
    analysis, or benchmark analysis—i.e., the steps taken to ensure that only those
    
    minority-owned contractors who are qualified, willing, and able to perform the prime
    
    contracts at issue are considered when forming the denominator of a disparity ratio.
    
    See Croson, 488 U.S. at 501-02 (“[W]here special qualifications are necessary, the
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    30
    relevant statistical pool for purposes of demonstrating discriminatory exclusion must be
    
    the number of minorities qualified to undertake the particular task.”). As Professor Ian
    
    Ayres, DOD’s expert in previous stages of this case, explained in a written statement
    
    before the USCCR, “the crucial question in disparity studies is to develop a credible
    
    methodology to estimate this benchmark share of contracts minorities would receive in
    
    the absence of discrimination,” and “[t]he touchstone for measuring the benchmark is to
    
    determine whether the firm is ‘ready, willing, and able’ to do business with the
    
    government.” J.A. at A777 (USCCR Disparity Studies, supra note 7, at 66).
    
          Rothe contends that these six studies misapplied this “touchstone” of Croson,
    
    and erroneously included any minority-owned firm that was deemed willing or potentially
    
    willing and able, without regard to whether that firm was qualified. In particular, Rothe
    
    objects to the studies’ use of lists compiled by local business associations, and of
    
    community outreach, to identify minority-owned businesses.          After reviewing the
    
    availability analyses contained in the six studies, we conclude that this defect does not
    
    substantially undercut the results of the four studies conducted by Mason Tillman
    
    Associates, because the bulk of the businesses considered in these studies were
    
    identified in ways that would tend to establish their qualifications, such as by their
    
    presence on city contract records and bidder lists. See, e.g., J.A. at A2999 (New York
    
    City study: of available prime contractors owned by minorities or women (“M/WBEs”),
    
    23.48 percent were identified via “Prime Contractor Utilization,” 76.22 percent identified
    
    via “Certification Lists,” and 0.30 percent identified via “Willingness Survey of Chamber
    
    Membership and Trade Association Membership Lists”); J.A. at A1578 (Dallas study:
    
    “77.04 percent of the prime contractors available in the four industries combined were
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                  31
    obtained from public agency and certification lists,” including “[m]ore than 75 percent of
    
    the M/WBEs,” while “[c]ompanies identified through outreach only were 26.35 percent of
    
    the M/WBEs”); J.A. at 1943 (Cuyahoga County study: “90.71 percent of the prime
    
    contractors available in the four industries combined were obtained from either utilized
    
    prime contractors, bidder lists, or certification lists,” including “73.42 percent of the
    
    [M/WBEs],” while “4.52 percent [of the M/WBEs] were identified solely through
    
    community meetings”); J.A. at A2674 (Alameda County study: of available prime
    
    contractor M/WBEs, 55.17 percent identified via “Alameda County and Other
    
    Government Records,” 37.43 percent identified via “Agency Certification Lists,” 0.57
    
    percent identified via “Business Outreach Events,” 1.54 percent via “Trade Association
    
    Membership Lists,” and 5.29 percent identified via “Chamber Membership Lists”).
    
          We are less confident in this aspect of the Virginia and Cincinnati studies,
    
    because the availability methodology employed in those studies appears less likely to
    
    have weeded out unqualified businesses.         See J.A. at A1780 (Cincinnati study:
    
    requiring only that a firm “does business within an industry group from which the City of
    
    Cincinnati makes certain purchases”; that “[t]he firm’s owner has demonstrated that he
    
    or she believes the firm is qualified and able to perform the work” (emphasis added);
    
    and that “[b]y the owner’s actions, he or she has demonstrated an interest in obtaining
    
    work from the entity”); J.A. at A2128 (Virginia study: “For our analysis we used vendor
    
    data as the basis of the availability component . . . . Using this approach, we assume
    
    that all firms in the relevant market area are ready, willing, and able to do work for the
    
    Commonwealth at the prime or sub level.” (emphasis added)).
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                  32
           We are even more troubled, however, by the failure of five of the studies to
    
    account sufficiently for potential differences in size, or relative capacity, of the
    
    businesses included in those studies. As Professor Ayres explained to the USCCR,
    
    “‘qualified’ firms may have substantially different capacities,” and thus might be
    
    expected to bring in substantially different amounts of business even in the absence of
    
    discrimination:
    
           Firms A and B may both be qualified to do some business with the
           government, but one firm may be a multinational with many plants, while
           the other firm may be a sole proprietorship with only a single plant. The
           ‘qualified-firm counting’ approach ignores differences in capacity and
           deems the single-plant firm to be equally ‘available’ to serve the
           government as the multiplant firm. It might assume, for example, that the
           manufacturers of a small micro-brewery brand and Budweiser are equally
           available to sell beer.
    
    J.A. at A778 (USCCR Disparity Studies at 67) (emphasis in original).
    
           The Eleventh Circuit has explained similarly that “[b]ecause they are bigger,
    
    bigger firms have a bigger chance to win bigger contracts. It follows that, all other
    
    factors being equal and in a perfectly nondiscriminatory market, one would expect the
    
    bigger (on average) non-MWBE firms to get a disproportionately higher percentage of
    
    total construction dollars awarded than the smaller MWBE firms.” Eng’g Contractors
    
    Ass’n, 122 F.3d at 917. And we ourselves criticized a statistic, offered by DOD in an
    
    earlier stage of this case, in part because it “[did] not take into account the fact that the
    
    sheer number of businesses owned by minorities may not be significantly correlated
    
    with the volume of business conducted by minority-owned businesses.” Rothe III, 262
    
    F.3d at 1324; see also W. States Paving Co., 407 F.3d at 1000 (“[T]he fact that
    
    [disadvantaged business enterprises] constitute 11.17% of the Washington market does
    
    not establish that they are able to perform 11.17% of the work.”).
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    33
           Here, each of the six disparity studies accounted for the relative sizes of
    
    contracts awarded to minority-owned businesses, by measuring the utilization of
    
    minority-owned contractors—i.e., the numerator in a disparity ratio—in terms of
    
    contract-dollars directed to minority-owned businesses rather than in the raw number of
    
    contracts awarded. But none of the studies took complementary account of the relative
    
    sizes of the businesses themselves.         Rather, each of the studies measured the
    
    availability of minority-owned businesses—i.e., the denominator in a disparity ratio—by
    
    the percentage of firms in the market owned by minorities, instead of by the percentage
    
    of total marketplace capacity those firms could provide. 12 See J.A. at A1603 (Dallas
    
    study: introducing concept of disparity ratio as comparison between “the proportion of
    
    contract dollars awarded to [MBEs and WBEs]” and “the proportion of available MBEs
    
    and WBEs in the relevant market area” (emphases added)); J.A. at A1962 (Cuyahoga
    
    County study: same); J.A. at A2702 (Alameda County study: same); J.A. at A3031 (New
    
    York City study: “Under a fair and equitable system of awarding contracts, the
    
    proportion of contract dollars awarded to M/WBEs would be approximate to the
    
    proportion of available M/WBEs in the relevant market area.” (emphases added)); J.A.
    
    at A1768 (Cincinnati study: defining “disparity index” as “the percentage of M/WFBE
    
    participation in government contracts,” i.e., “the percentage of contracting dollars paid to
    
    
    
           12
                   Constance F. Citro, one of the experts appearing before the USCCR panel
    on disparity studies in December of 2005, wrote that comparing utilization measured in
    terms of contract-dollars against availability measured in terms of number of firms is
    akin to comparing apples to oranges. See J.A. at A767 (USCCR Disparity Studies,
    supra note 7, at 56). While we do not adopt that statement as a general prohibition, we
    certainly agree with Dr. Citro that for a disparity ratio to have significant probative value,
    “the same time period and metric (dollars or numbers) should be used in measuring the
    utilization and availability shares.” J.A. at A772 (USCCR Disparity Studies, supra note
    7, at 61).
    
    
    2008-1017                                    34
    M/WFBE” firms, divided by “the percentage of M/WFBEs in the relevant population of
    
    local firms” (emphases added)); J.A. at A2211 (Virginia study: describing “underlying
    
    assumption” of study’s disparity analysis that “absent discrimination, the proportion of
    
    dollars received by a particular MBE group should approximate that group’s proportion
    
    of the relevant population of vendors” (emphases added)).
    
          We do not mean to suggest that the studies completely ignored the question of
    
    firm size. In the New York City study, for example, the disparity analysis was “restricted
    
    to an examination of the prime contract awards of $1,000,000 and under to limit the
    
    capacity required to perform the contracts subjected to the statistical analysis.” J.A. at
    
    A3005. Similarly, the Dallas study attempted to control for capacity by ensuring that
    
    firms had a “demonstrated ability to win large competitively bid contracts,” J.A. at
    
    A1582; the study concluded that “the majority of the City’s contracts are small,” and
    
    “[t]herefore, to perform on most City contracts, even the competitively bid construction
    
    projects, the available firms only required minimal capacity.” J.A. at A1602; see also
    
    J.A. at A1928 (Cuyahoga County study: similar approach).
    
          But while these parameters may have ensured that each minority-owned
    
    business in the studies met a capacity threshold—i.e., had the capacity to bid for and to
    
    complete any one contract—these parameters simply fail to account for the relative
    
    capacities of businesses to bid for more than one contract at a time, or, borrowing from
    
    Professor Ayres’s example, the difference between the volume of a particular micro-
    
    brewed beer in the marketplace at a given time and the volume of Budweiser.          This
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                  35
    failure renders the disparity ratios calculated by the studies substantially less probative,
    
    on their own, of the likelihood of discrimination. 13
    
           Of course, the studies could have accounted for firm size even without changing
    
    their disparity-ratio methodologies; they could have employed regression analysis to
    
    determine whether there was a statistically significant correlation between the size of a
    
    firm and the share of contract-dollars awarded to it. See Eng’g Contractors Ass’n, 122
    
    F.3d at 917 (explaining that “regression analysis is a statistical procedure for
    
    determining the relationship between a dependent and independent variable, e.g., the
    
    dollar value of a contract award and firm size,” and that “[t]he point of a regression
    
    analysis is to determine whether the relationship between the two variables is
    
    statistically meaningful”). But of the six studies, only the Virginia study conducted this
    
    type of regression analysis:
    
           The regression analysis which included the independent variables of a
           firm—age of company, owner education level, number of employees,
           percent of revenue from private sector, and owner experience for industry
           groupings—had an R square of .18, indicating that the independent
           variables explained only 18 percent of the variations in firm revenue
           categories.
    J.A. at A2234. And although the Virginia study did find “a consistent and negative
    
    relationship between MBE status and revenue” even after accounting for such
    
    “independent” variables, J.A. at A2235, the relatively lax “qualified, willing, and able”
    
    requirements of the Virginia study render this conclusion less probative.
    
    
    
    
           13
                   According to Professor Ayres, the Department of Commerce Benchmark
    Study employed a true “capacity” methodology, which “calculates in dollar terms the
    capacity of qualified firms to do business with the government” and uses as a
    benchmark for each industry the minority-owned businesses’ “share of the industry’s
    total capacity.” J.A. at A778 (USCCR Disparity Studies, supra note 7, at 67).
    
    
    2008-1017                                     36
           To be clear, we do not hold that the defects in the availability and capacity
    
    analyses in these six disparity studies render the studies wholly unreliable for any
    
    purpose. Where the calculated disparity ratios are low enough, we do not foreclose the
    
    possibility that an inference of discrimination might still be permissible for some of the
    
    minority groups in some of the studied industries in some of the jurisdictions. And we
    
    recognize that a minority-owned firm’s capacity and qualifications may themselves be
    
    affected by discrimination. 14   But we hold that the defects we have noted detract
    
    dramatically from the probative value of these six studies, and, in conjunction with their
    
    limited geographic coverage, render the studies insufficient to form the statistical core of
    
    the “strong basis in evidence” required to uphold the statute.
    
                         iv.    Geographic Coverage
    
           In Rothe III, we explained that, although Section 1207 is subject to scrutiny that is
    
    no less strict than the scrutiny applied to the race-based policies of municipalities,
    
    Congress nevertheless has, in a sense, a “‘broader brush’ than municipalities for
    
    remedying discrimination,” because Congress has the power to legislate for the entire
    
    nation. 262 F.3d at 1329. In particular, we wrote that “[w]hereas municipalities must
    
    necessarily identify discrimination in the immediate locality to justify a race-based
    
    program, we do not think that Congress needs to have had evidence before it of
    
    discrimination in all fifty states in order to justify the 1207 program.”     Id.; see also
    
    Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Slater, 
    228 F.3d 1147
    , 1165 (10th Cir. 2000) (“Adarand
    
    
    
           14
                 But see Concrete Works of Colo., Inc. v. City & County of Denver, 
    540 U.S. 1027
    , 1032 (2003) (Scalia, J., dissenting from denial of cert.) (“The Tenth Circuit
    accepted the city’s contention that . . . MBEs . . . ‘are generally smaller and less
    experienced because of industry discrimination.’ The argument fails because it rests on
    nothing but speculation.” (internal citation omitted)).
    
    
    2008-1017                                   37
    VII”) (“The fact that Congress’s enactments must serve a compelling interest does not
    
    necessitate the conclusion that the scope of that interest must be as geographically
    
    limited as that of a local government.”). However, we were clear that “evidence of a few
    
    isolated instances of discrimination would be insufficient to uphold the nationwide
    
    program,” and we left to the district court the question of “[w]here to draw the line . . . in
    
    the first instance.” Rothe III, 262 F.3d at 1330.
    
           The district court has now drawn a line, holding that “[t]hese six state and local
    
    disparity studies analyze evidence of discrimination from a diverse cross-section of
    
    jurisdictions across the United States, and they constitute prima facie evidence of a
    
    nation-wide pattern or practice of discrimination in public and private contracting.”
    
    Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 838-39 (footnote omitted). It is now up to us to review this
    
    holding, and we cannot affirm it.       We take judicial notice that the United States
    
    comprises over three thousand counties and county-equivalent regions, 15 and, as of
    
    July 1, 2007, there are at least two hundred cities or metropolitan areas with populations
    
    above 200,000 people. 16       It may be reasonable to assume that there are some
    
    demographic and industrial similarities between many of the larger cities and counties
    
    across the country.    And we still think that Congress need not amass evidence of
    
    discrimination in all fifty states to meet its burden. But we would be hesitant to conclude
    
    even from methodologically unimpeachable disparity studies of one state, two counties,
    
           15
                   See, e.g., United States Geological Survey, Frequently Asked Questions,
    “How many counties are there in the United States?” available at
    http://www.usgs.gov/faq/list_faq_by_category/get_answer.asp?id=785       (last visited
    September 28, 2008).
            16
                   See United States Census Bureau, Annual Estimates of the Population for
    Incorporated Places Over 100,000, Ranked by July 1, 2007 Population: April 1, 2000 to
    July 1, 2007, available at http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/tables/SUB-EST2007-
    01.csv (last visited September 28, 2008).
    
    
    2008-1017                                    38
    and three cities that there is a “nation-wide pattern or practice of discrimination in public
    
    and private contracting,” where the discrimination is on the same order as the local
    
    discrimination that might be inferred from the six studies. Here, given the weaknesses
    
    in the six studies’ benchmark analyses as described above, we simply cannot agree
    
    with the district court’s conclusion.
    
           We stress that in holding these six studies insufficient in this case, we do not
    
    necessarily disapprove of decisions by other circuit courts that have relied, directly or
    
    indirectly, on municipal disparity studies to establish a federal compelling interest.
    
    Different studies, in the context of different legislative history, may support different
    
    conclusions. In particular, the Appendix, relied on by the Ninth and Tenth Circuits in the
    
    context of certain race-conscious measures pertaining to federal highway construction,
    
    references the Urban Institute Report, which itself analyzed over fifty disparity studies
    
    and relied for its conclusions on over thirty of those studies, a far broader basis than the
    
    six studies here provide. See Adarand VII, 228 F.3d at 1172-73; W. States Paving Co.,
    
    407 F.3d at 992-93; Urban Institute Report, supra note 5, at 9. 17
    
                  b.      Other Evidence Before Congress
    
           We now turn to the remaining evidence relied on by the district court to hold that
    
    Congress had a strong basis in evidence for reenacting Section 1207 in 2006. Rather
    
    than take each item in turn, however, we will organize our discussion by statistical and
    
    anecdotal evidence. Ultimately, we will conclude that the remaining statistical evidence
    
    is not substantially more probative than that contained in the six disparity studies.
    
           17
                 The disparity studies analyzed in the Urban Institute Report may
    themselves be subject to methodological criticism, but we have no need to further
    consider those studies or the Urban Institute Report itself in this case, and decline to do
    so.
    
    
    2008-1017                                    39
    Without strong statistical evidence, the statute cannot be upheld. See Rothe III, 262
    
    F.3d at 1323-24 (“Statistical evidence is particularly important to justify race-based
    
    legislation. . . . Indeed, nearly every court of appeals upholding the constitutionality of a
    
    race-based classification has relied in whole or in part on statistical evidence.”);
    
    Adarand VII, 228 F.3d at 1166 (explaining that “[b]oth statistical and anecdotal evidence
    
    are appropriate in the strict scrutiny calculus,” but “anecdotal evidence by itself is not”).
    
                         i.      Other Statistical Evidence
    
           The district court considered statistics presented by USCCR Commissioner
    
    Michael Yaki in his dissent to a September, 2005 USCCR study titled “Federal
    
    Procurement After Adarand.” For example, the district court noted that although the
    
    revenue of minority-owned businesses grew by sixty percent between 1992 and 1997,
    
    more than the rate of growth for all United States firms, “the revenue of African
    
    American-owned firms grew only half as much as minority-owned businesses generally,
    
    and less than all U.S. firms.” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 865. The court also noted
    
    that “[m]inority-owned firms with paid employees were much less likely to survive from
    
    1997 to 2001 than from 1992 to 1996,” and that “African American-owned enterprises
    
    were less likely to survive than other groups in either period.” Id. Although this data is
    
    national in scope and is therefore in a sense more probative of nationwide
    
    discrimination than are municipal disparity studies, the data from Commissioner Yaki’s
    
    dissent dates to the early 1990’s. Thus, as the district court recognized, this data is not
    
    by itself highly probative of the state of affairs at the time of the 2006 reenactment of
    
    Section 1207. See id. at 865 n.107 (“The Court finds that this statistical evidence is not
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    40
    categorically stale, but it is less probative of present-day discrimination than the six
    
    state and local disparity studies previously discussed.”).
    
           The district court also referred to studies beyond the six disparity studies
    
    discussed above, but only in quoting speeches made by members of Congress. For
    
    example, in a July 2005 speech made to support the Department of Transportation’s
    
    disadvantaged business program, Senator Kennedy stated that “studies completed
    
    since 1998 show that minority and women-owned companies are underutilized in
    
    government contracting,” and listed studies identified by the Department of
    
    Transportation that he alleged
    
           show[] significant disparities between the availability and utilization of
           minority and women-owned firms in government contracting . . . in
           Nebraska; in Maryland; in Colorado; in Georgia; in Kentucky; in Ohio; in
           Wilmington, DE; in Dekalb County, GA; in Broward County, FL; in Dallas,
           TX; in Cincinnati, OH; in Tallahassee, FL; and in Baltimore, MD.
    
    
    Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 869 n.114 (quoting 151 Cong. Rec. S9442-02, at *S9443
    
    (Jul. 29, 2005)). These studies themselves, however, are not in the record here, and
    
    are not even sufficiently described in this floor excerpt for us to locate them, let alone
    
    subject them to “detailed, skeptical, non-deferential analysis.” See Rothe III, 262 F.3d
    
    at 1321. Likewise, the district court quoted floor speeches given by Representatives
    
    Watt and Menendez in December of 2005, in which they cited, respectively, to “a 2004
    
    disparity study for North Carolina that was performed by MGT America,” and “a New
    
    Jersey disparity study by MGT America,” and in which these Representatives concluded
    
    that these disparity studies demonstrated underutilization of minority contractors. Rothe
    
    VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 869. These studies are not in the record, and we cannot defer to
    
    Representatives Watt and Menendez about the studies’ probative value, particularly in
    
    
    2008-1017                                   41
    light of our concerns about the Virginia study by MGT of America discussed above. See
    
    Adarand VII, 228 F.3d at 1167 (“We cannot merely recite statements made by members
    
    of Congress alleging a finding of discriminatory effects and the need to address those
    
    effects . . . .”).
    
            We conclude that the remaining statistics cited by members of Congress in the
    
    floor speeches quoted by the district court cannot serve as the foundation of a “strong
    
    basis in evidence,” because they are not sufficiently probative of nationwide
    
    discrimination against the range of minority groups afforded a presumption under
    
    Section 1207. Nor are the statistics quoted by the district court from the three SBA
    
    reports sufficient, because they do not account for firm size or qualifications. See, e.g.,
    
    Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 871 (noting that the 2000 State of Small Business Report
    
    “found that minority-owned businesses ‘make [up] 9 percent of the business population
    
    of the United States, but small minority-owned businesses won just 6 percent of the
    
    award dollars in FY 1998 and 1999’”).
    
                         ii.    Anecdotal Evidence
    
            Given our holding regarding statistical evidence, we will not review the anecdotal
    
    evidence before Congress in detail. Beyond the anecdotal evidence contained in the
    
    six municipal disparity studies in the record, the district court discussed floor speeches
    
    by members of Congress, in which they related anecdotes submitted by minority
    
    business owners concerning their experiences with private sector and state- and city-
    
    level “good old boy” networks and discriminatory government agencies. See Rothe VI,
    
    499 F. Supp. at 866-67. The House Small Business Committee also heard in hearings
    
    about the difficulties faced by minority business owners in federal procurement. See id.
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                   42
    at 869-71. Rothe contests the accuracy of some of these anecdotes, but we need not
    
    make credibility determinations, because anecdotal evidence is insufficient by itself to
    
    support Section 1207. Adarand VII, 228 F.3d at 1166.
    
           We do pause, however, to consider that while the district court cited complaints
    
    about “slow payment by government agencies,” and “the effects of contract bundling in
    
    continuing the disparities of contracts awarded to minority business contractors,” Rothe
    
    VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 870, and cited the Small Business Committee’s conclusion that
    
    “much work remains to be done” in “increasing access to capital and federal
    
    procurement markets for minority entrepreneurs,” id., neither the district court in its
    
    opinion, nor DOD on appeal, cited to a single instance of alleged discrimination by DOD
    
    in the course of awarding a prime contract, nor to a single instance of alleged
    
    discrimination by a private contractor identified as the recipient of a prime defense
    
    contract.
    
           This lacuna is quite significant.   Justice O’Connor wrote in Croson that if a
    
    government has become “a ‘passive participant’ in a system of racial exclusion
    
    practiced by elements of the local construction industry,” then that government may take
    
    “affirmative steps to dismantle” the exclusionary system. 488 U.S. at 492. Here, the
    
    district court concluded that DOD “is a ‘passive participant’ in a system of racial
    
    exclusion practiced by elements of various state and local contracting sectors because
    
    the Government has compiled evidence of marketplace discrimination and linked its
    
    spending practices to that private or public discrimination.” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at
    
    827 (citing Concrete Works, 321 F.3d at 976). But without a single identified incident of
    
    discrimination by DOD or a recipient of DOD funds, the only evidence recited by the
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                  43
    district court to establish a link between DOD’s spending practices and discrimination is
    
    the fact that DOD “is one of the largest buyers of goods and services in the world,”
    
    having procured “approximately $268 billion of goods and services in fiscal year 2005,
    
    with much of that money being distributed to state and local contractors.” Rothe VI, 
    499 F. Supp. 2d
     at 827.
    
           Undoubtedly, some state and local contractors have engaged in discrimination.
    
    And given the amount of money spent by DOD, it is likely that some money injected by
    
    DOD into the nationwide contract market has made its way into the hands of
    
    contractors, subcontractors, or sub-subcontractors who have engaged in discrimination.
    
    But we are skeptical that this bare likelihood would be sufficient to establish DOD’s
    
    “passive participation” in discrimination within the meaning of Croson, even if—unlike
    
    the present case—Congress were to possess a strong evidentiary basis upon which to
    
    conclude that there was a nationwide pattern or practice of pervasive discrimination by
    
    state, local, and private contractors in the relevant contract markets at the relevant time.
    
    Even in Concrete Works, for example, the City of Denver offered more than mere dollar
    
    amounts to link its spending to private discrimination. As the Tenth Circuit explained,
    
    Denver provided testimony from minority business owners that “general contractors who
    
    use them in City construction projects refuse to use them on private projects,” with the
    
    result that Denver had “pa[id] tax dollars to support firms that discriminate against other
    
    firms because of their race, ethnicity, and gender.”       Concrete Works, 321 F.3d at
    
    976-77. We do not know whether, in the present case, DOD could have obtained
    
    similar testimony from minority-owned subcontractors at the relevant time, only that
    
    DOD did not do so.
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                   44
           To conclude our compelling interest analysis, we hold that Congress did not have
    
    before it, at the time of the 2006 reenactment of Section 1207, a “strong basis in
    
    evidence” for the proposition that DOD was a passive participant in racial discrimination
    
    in relevant markets across the country and that therefore race-conscious remedial
    
    measures were necessary. We stress that our holding is grounded in the particular
    
    items of evidence offered by DOD and relied on by the district court in this case, and
    
    should not be construed as stating blanket rules, for example about the reliability of
    
    disparity studies. As the Fifth Circuit has explained, there is no “precise mathematical
    
    formula to assess the quantum of evidence that rises to the Croson ‘strong basis in
    
    evidence’ benchmark.” W.H. Scott Constr. Co., 199 F.3d at 218 n.11. Rather, “[t]he
    
    sufficiency of a [government’s] findings of discrimination in a local industry,” or for that
    
    matter in a state-wide or nationwide industry, “must be evaluated on a case-by-case
    
    basis.” Id. Thus, if Congress reenacts Section 1207 again before it is set to expire in
    
    2009—as Congress is free to do—we cannot now predict, nor do we intend to prejudge,
    
    whether any such new enactment will be supported by a “strong basis in evidence.”
    
           3.     Narrow Tailoring
    
           Because we hold that Congress lacked the evidentiary predicate for a compelling
    
    interest, we cannot determine whether Section 1207, as reenacted in 2006, is narrowly
    
    tailored to a compelling interest. We make two observations about narrow tailoring,
    
    however.
    
           First, we held in Rothe III that the district court in Rothe I had “thoroughly
    
    analyzed and correctly concluded that the 1207 program was flexible in application,
    
    limited in duration, and that it did not unduly impact on the rights of third parties.” 262
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                   45
    F.3d at 1331. We have no occasion to revisit that holding today, but note that Section
    
    1207 and pertinent regulations have been amended over time, and that the
    
    amendments have tended to limit, rather than broaden, the application of preferences
    
    based on racial classifications.
    
           Second, even if we were to reach the other narrow tailoring factors, the absence
    
    of strongly probative statistical evidence makes it impossible to evaluate at least one of
    
    those factors. Without solid benchmarks for the minority groups covered by the statute,
    
    we simply cannot determine whether Section 1207’s five percent goal is reasonably
    
    related to the capacity of firms owned by members of those minority groups—i.e.,
    
    whether that goal is comparable to the “share of contracts minorities would receive in
    
    the absence of discrimination.” J.A. at A777 (USCCR Disparity Studies, supra note 7,
    
    at 66).   Such benchmarks might have been available here, had the Department of
    
    Commerce made good on its 1999 intention to “develop new benchmarks and utilization
    
    estimates every three years.” See supra note 2. But Commerce did not do so. See
    
    J.A. at A779 (USCCR Disparity Studies, supra note 7, at 68).
    
    C.     Rothe’s Request for Attorney Fees
    
           There is one more matter we must address. Rothe argues that DOD’s defense
    
    of Section 1207 in this litigation is not substantially justified, and seeks attorney fees
    
    and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”). Section 2412 (d)(1)(A) of
    
    Title 28 sets forth the basis for attorney’s fees under the EAJA:
    
           Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, a court shall award to
           a prevailing party other than the United States fees and other
           expenses . . . incurred by that party in any civil action (other than cases
           sounding in tort) . . . brought by or against the United States in any court
           having jurisdiction of that action, unless the court finds that the position of
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                    46
           the United States was substantially justified or that special circumstances
           make an award unjust.
    
    
           We deny Rothe’s request as premature. EAJA provides that a party seeking an
    
    award of fees and other expenses shall submit an application therefore “within thirty
    
    days of final judgment in the action.” Id. § 2412(d)(1)(B). There is not yet a final
    
    judgment in this case. We will remand the case for the district court to enter judgment;
    
    Rothe may submit an application for attorney fees at the appropriate time, though we
    
    take no position on the merits of such an application.
    
                                         CONCLUSION
    
           For the foregoing reasons, we hold that Section 1207, on its face, as reenacted
    
    in 2006, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment right to due
    
    process. Because the statute authorizes DOD to afford preferential treatment on the
    
    basis of race, we must apply strict scrutiny. And because Congress did not have a
    
    “strong basis in evidence” upon which to conclude that DOD was a passive participant
    
    in pervasive, nationwide racial discrimination—at least not on the evidence produced by
    
    DOD and relied on by the district court in this case—the statute fails strict scrutiny. We
    
    reverse the judgment of the district court in part, and remand with instructions to enter a
    
    judgment (1) denying Rothe any relief regarding the facial constitutionality of Section
    
    1207 as enacted in 1999 or 2002, (2) declaring that Section 1207 as enacted in 2006
    
    (i.e., the current 10 U.S.C. § 2323) is facially unconstitutional, and (3) enjoining
    
    application of the current 10 U.S.C. § 2323.
    
                 AFFIRMED-IN-PART, REVERSED-IN-PART and REMANDED
    
    
    
    
    2008-1017                                   47
    

Document Info

DocketNumber: 2008-1017

Filed Date: 11/4/2008

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 12/21/2014

Authorities (24)

Rothe Devel Corp v. US Dept of Defense , 194 F.3d 622 ( 1999 )

University of California Regents v. Bakke , 438 U.S. 265 ( 1978 )

Wygant v. Jackson Bd. of Ed. , 476 U.S. 267 ( 1986 )

United States v. Paradise , 480 U.S. 149 ( 1987 )

United States v. Salerno , 481 U.S. 739 ( 1987 )

Richmond v. JA Croson Co. , 488 U.S. 469 ( 1989 )

Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena , 515 U.S. 200 ( 1995 )

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School ... , 551 U.S. 701 ( 2007 )

Concrete Works v. City and County , 321 F.3d 950 ( 2003 )

Amer Fed Govt Empl v. United States , 330 F.3d 513 ( 2003 )

Hutchins v. Zoll Medical Corp. , 492 F.3d 1377 ( 2007 )

Rothe Development Corp. v. Dept. Of Defense , 413 F.3d 1327 ( 2005 )

Donald D. Gronholz v. Sears, Roebuck and Co. , 836 F.2d 515 ( 1987 )

engineering-contractors-association-of-south-florida-inc-associated , 122 F.3d 895 ( 1997 )

Ole K. Nilssen v. Motorola, Inc. And Motorola Lighting, Inc. , 203 F.3d 782 ( 2000 )

adarand-constructors-inc-a-colorado-corporation-v-rodney-e-slater , 228 F.3d 1147 ( 2000 )

Rothe Development Corporation v. United States Department ... , 262 F.3d 1306 ( 2001 )

sherbrooke-turf-inc-v-minnesota-department-of-transportation-united , 345 F.3d 964 ( 2003 )

The Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Technologies, Inc. , 381 F.3d 1178 ( 2004 )

western-states-paving-co-inc-v-washington-state-department-of , 407 F.3d 983 ( 2005 )

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