Court Battles

Ex-Trump aide sues Biden administration, alleging discrimination against white farmers

A legal group started by former Trump aide Stephen Miller filed a class-action lawsuit on Monday on behalf of Texas’s agricultural commissioner and others arguing that the Biden administration’s funds reserved for “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” discriminate against white people. 

The complaint from America First Legal (AFL) specifically takes issue with a proposal enacted by Congress as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The suit argues that through the program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is “actively and invidiously discriminating against American citizens solely based upon their race.” 

“The United States Department of Agriculture administers numerous statutes that provide government aid to ‘socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,’” the group said in the complaint. 

“The Department of Agriculture interprets this phrase to include African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaskan natives, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders,” the lawsuit noted. “But white farmers and ranchers are not included within the definition of ‘socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,’ making them ineligible for aid under these federal programs.”

“These racial exclusions are patently unconstitutional, and the Court should permanently enjoin their enforcement,” AFL argued. “Doing so will promote equal rights under the law for all American citizens and promote efforts to stop racial discrimination.” 

The lawsuit’s lead plaintiff is Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, though AFL said he is acting in his personal capacity as a private citizen rather than on behalf of the state. 

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Miller cited words from the late Martin Luther King, Jr., writing, “Americans ‘should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’”

“MLK’s vision is fundamental to our democracy, in which all citizens are equal both in front of the law and in the eyes of their Creator,” former President Trump’s senior adviser said. “For this reason, AFL is filing a lawsuit today against the Biden Administration to prevent it from administering programs created under the American Rescue Plan Act that discriminate against American farmers and ranchers based upon the basis of race.”

Miller also cited Chief Justice John Roberts in a 2007 ruling in which he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” 

When reached by The Hill, the Agriculture Department said in a statement that it was reviewing the complaint and was working with the Department of Justice on the matter.

“During this review, we will continue to implement the debt relief to qualified socially disadvantaged borrowers under the American Rescue Plan Act,” the statement added.

The lawsuit comes less than a week after Miller and AFL filed a legal challenge to Biden’s immigration policies, specifically holding child migrants and some families at border facilities while relying on the Trump-era “Title 42” rule to quickly deport a majority.

The suit, which was filed on behalf of the state of Texas just weeks after Miller announced the launch of AFL, argued that the Biden administration’s “abandonment of their authority” under the law means “more Texans will be exposed to Covid-19, more Texans will contract Covid-19, more Texans will die of Covid-19 and Texas will incur significant costs in terms of health care and law enforcement resources.”

–Updated on April 28 at 9:04 a.m.

Tags aid for farmers America First Action American Rescue Plan Biden class action lawsuit coronavirus pandemic Donald Trump Joe Biden Stephen Miller Texas U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA

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