White Farmers Win Temporary Injunction Halting Biden Loan Forgiveness Program That Favored Non-Whites
Federal Judge: “Defendants lack a compelling interest for the racial classifications…. Defendants are enjoined from forgiving any loans pursuant to Section 1005 until the Court rules on Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.”
The Biden administration has suffered another setback to its agenda of advancing racially disciminatory policies meant to favor non-whites.
In a recent case, an Appeals Court Enjoins Biden’s Coronvirus Relief Favoring Non-Whites and Women. Now another discriminatory policy has been halted.
We previously covered a lawsuit by white farmers, White Farmers Excluded From Biden Loan Forgiveness Program Sue To Stop “use of race discrimination as a tool to end ‘systemic racism’”:
This lawsuit, and others sure to follow, could have huge implications for education as well. Present discrimination to remedy past discrimination is a foundational principle of Ibram X. Kendi’s “antiracism” philosophy that is a driving force from higher ed to K-12 activism. Court recognition that the Kendian “antiracism” approach when applied to farmers constitutes illegal racial discrimination could easily be applied to the race shaming and belittling of people based on race that has permeated so many educational institutions.
The Complaint asserted:
3. Plaintiffs are farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio who have direct loans with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) or loans backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They are otherwise eligible for the loan-forgiveness program in ARPA, except for the color of their skin. As white farmers, Plaintiffs are ineligible for this government benefit….
7. Defendants’ use of race discrimination as a tool to end “systemic racism,” is therefore unconstitutional and should be enjoined by this Court.
On June 10, a federal court judge in Wisconsin granted a Temporary Restraining Order (pdf.) halting the discrimination:
Twelve plaintiffs, who reside in nine different states, including Wisconsin, brought this action against the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), seeking to enjoin officials of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing a loan-forgiveness program for farmers and ranchers under Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). Plaintiffs assert that Section 1005 denies them equal protection of the law because eligibility to participate in the program is based solely on racial classifications….
Plaintiffs are twelve white farmers and ranchers from nine different states. Plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order seeking to enjoin the purportedly unconstitutional race based program before all of the money is distributed….
Because the program grants privileges to individuals based solely on their race, strict scrutiny applies….
Here, Defendants lack a compelling interest for the racial classifications. Defendants assert that “Congress targeted the debt payments in Section 1005 to the minority groups that it determined had suffered discrimination in the USDA programs and that had been largely left out of recent agricultural funding and pandemic relief.” Dkt. No. 17 at 17. But Defendants have not established that the loan-forgiveness program targets a specific episode of past or present discrimination….
Aside from a summary of statistical disparities, Defendants have no evidence of intentional discrimination by the USDA in the implementation of the recent agriculture subsidies and pandemic relief efforts.
The Court rejected issuing only a narrow injunction, and issued instead a ‘universal’ injunction and halted the loan forgiveness program:
Plaintiffs have satisfied the elements necessary to obtain a temporary restraining order. Defendants argue that any temporary restraining order should be limited to Plaintiffs and not the thousands of other farmers across the country. They suggest that the Court issue a limited injunction requiring that the government set aside funds to pay off Plaintiffs’ qualified loans pending the outcome of the litigation. While universal injunctions are rare, they “can be necessary to provide complete relief to plaintiffs, to protect similarly-situated nonparties, and to avoid the chaos and confusion that comes from a patchwork of injunctions.” City of Chicago v. Barr, 961 F.3d 882, 916–17 (7th Cir. 2020) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A nation-wide injunction is appropriate in this case. Defendants’ proposal to set aside funds to pay off any of Plaintiffs’ qualified loans is unworkable. If the USDA forgave Plaintiffs’ loans, it would be required to forgive every farmer’s loan, since the only criteria for loan forgiveness is the applicant’s race. Plaintiffs estimate that this would increase the cost of the program to $400 billion. Dkt. No. 19 at 3. In addition, nothing would prevent Plaintiffs from amending the complaint to add other farmers and ranchers as plaintiffs to this action. To ensure that Plaintiffs receive complete relief and that similarly-situated nonparties are protected, a universal temporary restraining order in this case is proper….
Defendants are enjoined from forgiving any loans pursuant to Section 1005 until the Court rules on Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.
NBC News quotes the adminitration’s reaction:
A department spokesman, Matt Herrick, told NBC News, “We respectfully disagree with this temporary order and USDA will continue to forcefully defend our ability to carry out this act of Congress and deliver debt relief to socially disadvantaged borrowers. When the temporary order is lifted, USDA will be prepared to provide the debt relief authorized by Congress.”
The next step will be preliminary and permanent injunction hearings.
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