Republican AGs Challenge Commerce Department’s DEI Proposal
Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach answers questions from a moderator during a Kansas Chamber of Commerce event at the Embassy Suites by Hilton on Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2022, in Olathe.
Credit: Kansas City Star / Contributor via Getty Images.

Over a dozen Republican attorneys general are challenging the Biden administration over a proposed policy that would push diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles in the private sector. 

The coalition of 19 states, led by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, and Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, argues that the Commerce Department’s proposed “Business Diversity Principles” promote racial discrimination and anti-American principles. 

The proposed principles from the Commerce Department would push the “best practices related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the private sector.” The AGs say that the principles promote race-based hiring, which is a violation of federal law. 

“The federal Department of Commerce needs to recognize it’s not legal to treat people differently because of the color of their skin,” Skrmetti said in a statement. “We’re warning the Department that its proposed ‘Business Diversity Principles’ guidance violates the law, promotes racial discrimination, and would lead our country backward.”

One of the principles would tell companies to track “demographic data across all levels and departments, company policies, practices, and workers’ perception” in order to say how well it was following DEIA guidelines. 

It would also push corporations to pursue “clear strategies to increase diversity among the organization’s executive ranks” and make sure they have access to “DEIA professionals.” The proposal adds that corporations should maintain “DEIA councils” to oversee the implementation of DEIA principles. 

The Republican officials said in their letter that focusing on race was counterintuitive to true diversity. 

“We endorse the value of promoting meaningful diversity of experience, thought, and background among the public- and private-sector workforce. But race is both a poor and unlawful proxy for achieving that end,” they wrote. “We write to briefly reiterate the significant legal defects with the Department’s proposal to push race-based discrimination to advance the Department’s DEIA agenda.”


The AGs of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia also signed on to the letter. 

The proposal comes as part of the Biden administration’s put DEI policies in place throughout every area of the federal government. The push was started on Biden’s first day in office when he signed an executive order called “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”

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