OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Joe Biden just got slapped down by a federal judge who said that his plan to provide relief to farmers of color caused grave constitutional concerns.
The judge said that the program did not even consider the financial status of those who applied and completely eliminated helping others based on their race, The New York Post reported.
The relief program, launched in March under Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, paid up to 120 percent of the loans for farmers or ranchers who are black, Hispanic, Latino, American Indian or Alaskan native and Asian American or Pacific Islander.
The $3.8 billion initiative drew an April lawsuit in Wisconsin Federal Court by 12 white farmers and ranchers from nine states — who said they were excluded from the program due to their race.
Judge William Griesbach issued a temporary restraining order Thursday halting the program while the case is decided.
The judge argued that the United States Department of Agriculture provided the help “without actually considering the financial circumstances of the applicant.”
The “only consideration in determining whether a farmer or rancher’s loans should be completely forgiven is the person’s race or national origin,” the judge said. “Plaintiffs are completely excluded from participation in the program based on their race.”
“The obvious response to a government agency that claims it continues to discriminate against farmers because of their race or national origin is to direct it to stop: it is not to direct it to intentionally discriminate against others on the basis of their race and national origin,” he said in his decision.
Congress “cannot discriminate on the basis of race,” he said.
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed a lawsuit challenging the program in April on behalf of 12 white farmers and the group’s President Rick Esenberg was thrilled with the judge’s decision.
“What Congress did here is very difficult, really impossible to reconcile with controlling Supreme Court precedent,” he said. “Given that all district judges are bound to follow that precedent, I’m not surprised that the court found that we were likely to succeed on the merits of our constitutional claim.”
“There’s no requirement in the current (loan forgiveness) program that any minority farmer who is having their loan forgiven show that they were the victim of any type of discrimination or even could have been. The only thing you have to show to get your loan forgiven is the color of your skin,” he said.
Not surprisingly the USDA disagreed with the judge’s decision via a spokesperson.
“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,” they said.
And this is not the first rodeo for Biden and his race based policies for relief being shot down in court. Just last week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals did the same in another case.
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty brought the case for Antonio Vitolo, owner of Jake’s Bar and Grill in Harriman, Tennessee.
Vitolo had immediately applied for aid on May 3 but, according to the lawsuit, did not qualify yet because he is a white male, the Washington Examiner reported.
Small Business Association Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman was named as the defendant for the case that started in the U.S. District Court in East Tennessee.
“Given the limited pot of funds, this puts white male applicants at significant risk that, by the time their applications are processed, the money will be gone,” the lawsuit argued.
Vitolo’s application was “pushed to the back of the queue behind certain minority applicants and women,” the lawsuit argued.
“Vitolo would be “economically disadvantaged” were it not for the racial classification in that definition,” it said.
“Under the guise of pandemic relief, the American Rescue Plan Act enables the federal government to engage in an illegal and unconstitutional race and sex discrimination. This is ugly, pernicious, and toxic. We will fight it wherever it shows up,” WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said.
The case made its way to the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals where, by a 2 -1 ruling, it was decided that the Biden Administration’s prioritization of minority and women-owned businesses was “unconstitutional.”
Judge Amul Thapar, who penned the majority decision, was joined by Judge Alan Norris in a ruling that read, in part, “This case is about whether the government can allocate limited coronavirus relief funds based on the race and sex of the applicants. We hold that it cannot.”
“Thus, we enjoin the government from using these unconstitutional criteria when processing Antonio Vitolo’s application,” the ruling said.
“Since the government failed to justify its discriminatory policy, the plaintiffs will win on the merits of their constitutional claim,” it said.
The decision said, “As today’s case shows once again, the “way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
“The Small Business Administration has injected explicit racial and ethnic preferences into the priority process,” the decision said. “Under a regulation that predates the pandemic, the agency presumes certain applicants are socially disadvantaged based solely on their race or ethnicity.
“Groups that presumptively qualify as socially disadvantaged—and thus get to jump to the front of the line for priority consideration—include ‘Black Americans,’ ‘Hispanic Americans,’ ‘Asian Pacific Americans,’ ‘Native Americans,’ and ‘Subcontinent Asian Americans,’ the ruling said.
“If you are in one of these groups, the Small Business Administration assumes you qualify as socially disadvantaged. Indeed, the only way not to qualify is if someone comes forward ‘with credible evidence to the contrary,’” it said.
“The government shall fund the plaintiffs’ grant application, if approved, before all later-filed applications, without regard to processing time or the applicants’ race or sex. The government, however, may continue to give veteran-owned restaurants priority in accordance with the law. This preliminary injunction shall remain in place until this case is resolved on the merits and all appeals are exhausted,” the court ruled.