A federal judge has ruled that an Atlanta-based venture capital firm can continue offering grants to Black women entrepreneurs after a lawsuit alleged it illegally excluded other races.
On Tuesday (September 26), Senior U.S. Judge Thomas Thrash denied a preliminary injunction attempting to block grants for Black women business owners given out by the Fearless Fund, per the Associated Press.
The American Alliance for Equal Rights, a nonprofit founded by Edward Blum, the conservative activist behind the Supreme Court's decision to reject affirmative action, initiated the injunction, claiming that the Fearless Fund was violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866 by only making Black women eligible for its annual grant contest.
Thrash said the grants fell under "charitable donations," which is "expressive conduct" entitled to protection under the First Amendment.
Following the ruling, Fearless Fund founders gathered outside the courthouse alongside Rev. Al Sharpton.
“We will continue to run the nation’s first venture capital fund that is built by women of color for women of color,” Fearless Fund CEO and co-founder Arian Simone said.
Blum said his alliance plans to appeal the ruling.
“Our nation’s civil rights laws do not permit racial distinctions because some groups are overrepresented in various endeavors, while others are under-represented,” Blum said in a statement.