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A conservative activist group filed a class action lawsuit against a reparations program in Evanston, Illinois, claiming the initiative is unconstitutional because qualification for the program is based on an applicant’s race.

In 2021, Evanston became the first city in the U.S. to implement a reparations program, offering payments to Black residents affected by discriminatory zoning in place from 1919 to 1969. The group Judicial Watch is representing six non-Black people whose ancestors lived in the Chicago suburb at that time. They argue that the program aimed at ameliorating historic wrongdoings violates the equal protection clause. Judicial Watch claims that Evanston uses race as “a proxy for experiencing discrimination between 1919 and 1969.”

The lawsuit follows a series of cases brought forward by advocacy groups in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision to end race-conscious admissions for colleges — shifting the focus from universities to scholarship programs and local initiatives.

Evanston’s program was designed in order to acknowledge the “historical harm” to residents who experienced “discriminatory housing policies and practices,” according to the memorandum.

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