A panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the 21-day exclusive priority for businesses owned by a “woman, veteran and/or socially or economically disadvantaged individual” to apply for and access funds from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) is unconstitutional. The Small Business Administration (SBA) officially opened the $29 billion RRF for assistance applications on May 3, but restricted the availability of funding for the first 21 days. The program quickly exhausted all of it funding even before the priority window had closed, leaving businesses that were not owned (51% minimum) by women, veterans or socially or economically-disadvantaged individuals out of the funding. The split decision in the case of Antonio Vitolo, Jake’s Bar & Grill vs the SBA overturned a district court ruling out of Tennessee that rejected the plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order. In its 27-page ruling, the court found that because “race-neutral alternatives exist, the government’s use of race is unconstitutional.” Similarly, as relates a preference for women owned firms, the court again pointed to other remedies that do not “use sex as a proxy to remedy a problem that is purely economic.” How the decision may play out going forward if the additional funds (referenced above) are appropriated remains to be seen.