The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it will take up Comcast’s appeal over an earlier Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that allowed a $20 billion racial bias lawsuit against the cable giant to proceed.
The lawsuit brought on by Bryon Allen-owned Entertainment Studios and the National Association of African-American Owned Media centers on Comcast’s refusal to carry networks owned by Allen’s company. Comcast is accused of engaging in racial discrimination during contracting, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Comcast has said its decision not to carry Entertainment Studio channels including Cars.TV, Comedy.TV., and Pets.TV., was based on capacity and consumer demand, not race, according to Reuters.
The Supreme Court justices agreed to hear one aspect of Comcast’s petition, according to a brief order posted Monday. Comcast argued that in order for a civil rights lawsuit to proceed, the plaintiffs must show that racial discrimination motivated the decision to deny the carriage contract.
Charter’s efforts to dismiss a similar $10 billion racial discrimination lawsuit brought on by Entertainment Studios also failed in the Ninth Circuit, but the nation’s highest court has not yet said if it will hear Charter’s appeal.
Following the federal appeals court ruling last year, Allen said “These two decisions against Comcast and Charter are very significant, unprecedented, and historic,” said Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, in a statement. “The lack of true economic inclusion for African Americans will end with me.”