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President Biden’s farm loan forgiveness program is outrageously unconstitutional. It is a law that would selectively pay off the loans of farmers based on race. A non-white farmer would see his entire loan paid off. His neighbor, who is white, would not qualify for the program. It was predictably challenged in court with predictable results.
Every court to reach the question has issued a preliminary injunction, thus barely any money got out the door before it got halted. You may have thought it was over, but it’s not.
After taking an uninterrupted string of losses in defending the program’s racial preferences, the government has changed tactics. It has argued that it is wasteful and unfair to force it, the United States of America represented by the Department of Justice (the world’s largest law office), to have to defend its unconstitutional program in multiple places at one time. Just remember this the next time you need an extension on your taxes.
Largely, this change in tactics has worked. In case after case, courts have stayed their cases. Those nationwide injunctions you may have read about? They are pretty much now moot or dissolved outright. The government staved off a much-needed reckoning.
A Standout Case
Under the program, which was billed as coronavirus relief, non-white farmers with loans from the Department of Agriculture would get their loans forgiven in full, plus an extra 20 percent on top. It doesn’t even matter if the farmer was an actual victim of discrimination or had received previous settlement awards for being a victim of discrimination, or if the farm was devastated by COVID lockdowns. The program makes race the most important characteristic.
In only one case in the country did a judge outright reject the government’s stay request, that of Rob Holman, a Tennessee farmer who is unfortunately ineligible for the program because he is white. The government doesn’t get to complain about being overwhelmed by pro bono law firms, then put Holman’s case on the shelf for years while it chooses where and how it would like to litigate. The government got all of its other stays, although one additional request to stay is still pending in Florida. Holman’s case will likely be heard this year, assuming the government’s ongoing bid for delay does not succeed.
Holman is represented by Southeastern Legal Foundation and Mountain States Legal. Our client is trying to stand up to the most powerful government on Earth. He is a fourth-generation farmer in Tennessee. Making his loan payments hasn’t always been easy, but Holman has always made those payments and kept his farm afloat. The government arbitrarily decided to forgive the loans of his competitors, who are now free to make upgrades to their farm equipment that Holman cannot. That’s not fair, and it is only through the help of two public interest law firms that Holman is able to try to stop it.
Evidence for Systemic Racism
“Systemic inequitable treatment” is how the government justifies its race-preference for farm loan forgiveness. We have heard a great deal about “systemic racism.” It supposedly pervades America’s past and infects everything today.
“Systemic racism” got a hard look when the government was taken to court in June. Courts demand evidence, after all. It’s a different game from, say, Twitter or Congress. You actually have to prove what you say. The bigger the claim, the more powerful evidence the courts expect. If America is, and has always been, racist, it ought to be pretty easy to prove.
When the government flipped its cards over, it had nothing. They offered a mountain of evidence, citing every historical wrong going back centuries. But the judge only went on to agree (understating things a bit) that the government’s facts “are less useful than they may appear to be.” Indeed. The judge then stopped the program across all 50 states.
Systemic racism in 2021 has become this administration’s boogeyman. They summon it forth every time they need to shake loose a few trillion dollars from the American taxpayer. Why does the government have such trouble proving that the monster exists?
The courts are sick of seeing race-first government programs justified by flimsy claims that America is systematically racist. In another recent case having to do with restaurant loans — again prioritized based on skin color — the court faulted the government because it could “not identify specific incidents of past discrimination.”
When you parse things further, the whole business of figuring out which races have been sufficiently victimized gets pretty sordid pretty fast: “preferences for Pakistanis but not Afghans; Japanese but not Iraqis; Hispanics but not Middle Easterners.” Can you imagine writing this law? It feels gross just to read about it. And some of us have noticed that the government isn’t always … very good at its job. Do you really want to the talent that was passed over by Veterans Affairs to be in charge of deciding which races are “socially disadvantaged”?
Let’s Not License More Discrimination
Now, with all that said, no one is saying that the Department of Agriculture has always been a beacon of equality. It has not. But under the Pigford settlements in 1999, the U.S. taxpayer has already paid off more than $2.3 billion to right the wrongs committed by the department against black farmers. Now those same people at the Agriculture Department are asking us for a license to engage in more discrimination? No way.
The solution to racism should never be more racism. Nor should we allow an agency with a troubling history of racial discrimination to engage in more racial discrimination.
We should stop playing along with this never-ending game of government extortion, where the government’s past racism gives it a pass for more racism. We need a different approach, one spelled out in the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Acts: equality. Stop treating people differently based on the color of their skin. That’s it.