The racially biased relief programs buried in the American Rescue Plan continue to fall like dominos. The latest challenge to the $4B farm relief fund arose in Florida, where a white farmer named Scott Wynn went to court after learning he had been disqualified from the program based solely on his race. A federal judge has now ordered the Department of Agriculture to put a freeze on any distribution of the funds while the court reviews the details. The injunction, ordered by Judge Marcia Morales Howard, was once again based on the likelihood that the program violates the 14th Amendment rights of farmers who were excluded from the program. This news leads us to the question we should be considering today. Did anyone actually read this bill before they voted for it? (NBC News)
A federal judge in Florida halted the Biden administration’s new debt relief program for minority farmers on Wednesday.
Judge Marcia Morales Howard, an appointee of President George W. Bush, temporarily blocked the Agriculture Department from implementing a $4 billion program aimed at helping distressed minority farmers on the basis that it likely violates white farmers’ rights to equal protection under the 14th amendment to the Constitution.
Howard ordered the Agriculture Department not to issue payments under the program for “socially disadvantaged” farmers until she can rule on the merits of the case.
As I mentioned above, this isn’t the first defeat for the farm relief fund. A dozen white farmers went to court in Wisconsin over the same issue and had a similar injunction issued a couple of weeks ago. And it’s not just the farm relief fund that’s coming under legal scrutiny. The same bill included the Restaurant Relief Fund which was also shut down for similar reasons. The RRF didn’t entirely bar white employers from applying for the program, but it did move them all to the back of the line, establishing preferences for others based on nothing but their race.
Keep in mind that the American Rescue Plan passed in the House without a single Republican vote, 219-212. It similarly slipped through the Senate on a 50-49 party-line vote. Every Democrat that voted for this package apparently felt that these racially biased grant packages were not only a good idea but were legally defensible.
Don’t most of the members still at least have staffers responsible for reading all of the bills before they vote on them? It seems as if at least some of them would have raised a red flag and told the boss that these programs wouldn’t survive a court challenge, doesn’t it? Obviously, these provisions would have been shot down in flames if they attempted to reserve relief funds to only white people. (As they should be.) But the underlying message here is clearly that a little bit of racial discrimination is okay, as long as you’re discriminating against the right sort of people.
The only other way to look at the farm relief program is through the lens of what should be an unrelated topic of debate. What do you call a program that hands out money to a group of minority citizens but excludes participation by whites? You call it reparations. That’s apparently all this was from the beginning. If they had just called it reparations in the bill, perhaps they might have found a way for the courts to uphold it. But as things stand, these relief efforts are going to be stalled for some time to come and the programs may have to be retooled in a way that passes constitutional muster.