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Federal Court Blocks Biden Admin From Race and Gender-Based Disaster Relief

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A federal court in Texas on Friday ordered the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop discriminating against farmers based on race or sex when awarding disaster relief.

“We just received a NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION in the Strickland v. Vilsack case, which halts the racially discriminatory farmer relief payments being made by the USDA,” the Mountain States Legal Foundation said in a post to X. “The payments will no longer go out while the case proceeds! A proud moment for us & our partners.”

The case was brought by that organization, and the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF), the latter of which also confirmed the ruling in a statement to Just the News.

“The court’s nationwide injunction ordering the USDA to stop discriminating against farmers in the administration of disaster relief programs because of their race or sex represents a win for freedom and equality,” the Southeastern Legal Foundation said.  “USDA has tried this before with other programs, SLF has taken it to court and won. We won’t stop fighting for the constitutional rights of American farmers until USDA earns their trust through fair and equal treatment.”

In April, a group of white farmers asked the court to approve an emergency injunction to prevent the department from using race, gender, or other “socially disadvantaged” traits to determine the allocation and amount of disaster and pandemic farm aid. They argued that natural disasters do not discriminate, and neither should the USDA.

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The group noted that the Biden administration has allocated approximately $25 billion in disaster and pandemic aid, approved by Congress for farmers across eight programs, and created a system that awards funds based on race and gender, among other factors, which they argue violates the Fifth Amendment, Just the News reported.

“The Constitution promises equal treatment to all Americans regardless of their race or sex,” the farmers said in a court filing. “It also promises the separation of powers. USDA broke both promises through the disaster and pandemic relief programs challenged here.”

The group went on to argue that the USDA was being discriminatory by “defining farmers who are black/African-American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or a woman as ‘socially disadvantaged,’” and then providing those people more money than people not considered “underserved,” for the same thing.

The outlet said the agency’s policy appeared to stem from an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.

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In April, a federal appeals court slammed the gavel down on Biden’s latest effort to forgive more federal student loans, calling the action “almost certainly unlawful.”

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a lower court’s decision and directed that judge to issue a preliminary injunction blocking Biden’s debt relief plan nationwide, according to Reuters.

According to U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones, who wrote for a three-judge panel, Career Colleges and Schools of Texas, which has been opposing Biden’s debt cancellation policy, is likely to be able to prove in a higher court that the U.S. Department of Education does not have the authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel $430 billion in student loans for 43 million students.

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Jones’ opinion comes in the case of Career Colleges and Schools of Texas v. United States Department of Education, et al, in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 23-50491.

The rule used to discharge the debt was officially approved in October 2022. Its modifications broadened the eligibility criteria for students seeking debt relief if they were “misled” by their for-profit educational institutions.

Jones added that the regulation suffers from a “pantheon of legal problems” and “numerous statutory and regulatory shortcomings.”

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