Fearless Fund Returns To Court, Pleads Case To Continue Funding Black Women Entrepreneurs After Being Targets Of Anti-DEI Attacks


NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 10: (L-R) Rachel Noerdlinger, Benjamin Crump, Mylan Denerstein, Alphonso David, Ayana Parsons and Arian Simone attend a press conference with attorney Benjamin Crump and Founders Of Nation’s leading black women-owned venture capital fund in response to discrimination lawsuit on August 10, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

On Wednesday, the legal team for the Fearless Fund, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm, returned to court to make their arguments before a three-judge panel “on the legality of a small-business grant program for Black women, the First Amendment and why explicitly supporting Black businesswomen is or is not racial discrimination,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

An attorney representing the Fund, Alphonso David, addressed reporters after the hearing. “If the Fearless Fund is not allowed to give grants to Black women consistent with their mission, it calls into the question every other charitable organization doing the same thing,” he said, as CNN reports. “That’s why this case is important to them and that’s why this case should be important to everyone else in this country.”

Who are the challengers to the Fearless Fund? The American Alliance for Equal Rights, an organization helmed by Edward Blum, the same man who was instrumental in successfully targeting “affirmative action in college admissions,” the AJC notes.

The Fund returned to court Wednesday, arguing their case before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami, which consists of one President Obama-appointed judge and two who were appointed by President Trump.

The issue in question: whether the lower court’s ruling can be upheld. As a reminder, per the district court for the Northern District of Georgia’s decision last September, the nonprofit “clearly intends to convey a particular message in promoting and operating its grant program: ‘Black women-owned businesses are vital to our economy.’… The Foundation’s conduct at issue is, therefore, expressive and subject to the First Amendment.”

But after the district court issued their ruling, the Alliance appealed and the appellate court then “issued a temporary injunction,” blocking the Fund’s grant program.

The Alliance, ironically using a law that was created to protect civil rights after slavery, believes the program is discriminatory towards women who are not Black, and claims to represent “three anonymous Asian and white businesswomen who can’t apply for the grant,” the AJC points out.

The circuit judges heard arguments from the legal teams for both the Alliance and Fearless. Of note, Robert Luck, one of the Trump appointees, has already “sided with the alliance in the initial motion for a preliminary injunction.”

At one point during the proceedings, Luck commented, ““it seems like at its core the premise of your argument is that so long as there are lots of other sources of funding out there that are not discriminating on the basis of race, we can…Everyone else is saving us from our own unlawful conduct.”

Although the in-court arguments concluded today, judges did not indicate when the final decision will be issued.

As CNN reports, co-founder and Fearless Fund CEO Arian Simone, “said in a statement this week that her organization remains ‘undeterred by this relentless, concerted attempt to set economic equity back.’”

Because this is an appeal, decisions typically take approximately six months; however, because they requested an expedited hearing due to the emergency order, David is hopeful for a quicker timeline.  “It’s difficult to predict, of course, what a three-judge panel will conclude, but we feel very strongly that the law supports the Fearless Foundation’s activities,” he stated after the Wednesday hearing.

The Fund has not released their contingency plan if the federal appeals court rules in the Alliance’s favor, but David did say that the legal team is “committed to defending the Foundation’s activities.”


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