Texas Agriculture Commissioner says Covid Aid discriminates against white farmers and ranchers – Courthouse News Service


Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller says in a federal lawsuit that non-white farmers and ranchers get a pandemic loan write-off of up to 120% of the loan.

Cattle are pictured on a ranch near Marfa, Texas. (News photo of the courthouse / Travis Bubenik)

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller sued the Biden administration on Monday, saying aid from Covid-19 to “socially disadvantaged” minority farmers and ranchers was discriminatory against towards whites.

Miller has filed a proposed class action lawsuit in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas against Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, seeking a declaration that the Federal Department of Agriculture’s “racial exclusions” violate the US Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“These racial exclusions are patently unconstitutional, and the court should permanently direct their application,” the 11-page complaint states. “This will promote equal rights before the law for all American citizens and advance efforts to end racial discrimination because ‘[t]The way to end racial discrimination is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. “

Lawsuit Says $ 1.9 Trillion US Rescue Package Passed By Congress Last Month Includes Provisions For Cancellation Of Loans To “Socially Disadvantaged” Farmers Or Ranchers Up To 120% Of The Loan Value . He claims other federal laws limit aid to white farmers and ranchers, including the Agriculture Department being required to give preference to grant applications filed by “socially disadvantaged” farmers or ranchers.

Miller says the Agriculture Department has adopted a broad definition of “socially disadvantaged farmer and rancher” to include blacks, Native Americans, Alaskan Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders. He says that this definition is wrong and that it “departs from the clear statutory text by not including white ethnic groups who have unquestionably suffered” prejudice because of their ethnicity.

“Indeed, throughout American history, many white ethnic groups have been subjected to ‘racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities,” y including the Irish, Italians, Germans, Jews and Eastern Europeans ”. the complaint states. “Members of these ethnic groups unambiguously qualify themselves as members of a ‘socially disadvantaged group’ and as’ socially disadvantaged farmers or herders’, according to the plain text … ‘”

If the trial court refuses to declare the Agriculture Department’s interpretation unconstitutional, Miller’s lawsuit seeks alternative claims that “socially disadvantaged” should be interpreted to include white ethnic groups who have suffered discrimination in the workplace. past or interpreted to include persons “who have a discernible trace” of non-white ancestry.

“An interpretation of the underlying laws that excludes plaintiffs like Miller because he is not ‘black enough’ would raise serious constitutional concerns Bolling v. Harp and it should be rejected for that reason alone, ”the complaint states. “For the same reason, the statutes should not be interpreted as empowering the Department of Agriculture to choose a minimum threshold of minority ancestry when determining eligibility for benefits.”

The agriculture ministry declined to comment on the trial on Tuesday morning, referring questions to the justice ministry.

Miller is a Republican from Stephenville serving his second term after being first elected in 2014. He previously served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. The lawsuit says Miller is suing “in his capacity as a private citizen. ”And not in his official capacity.

The Agriculture Commissioner was an early and strong supporter of President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. He has been criticized repeatedly for posting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and controversial statements on social media , including the posting of a tweet referring to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as a “pussy.” Miller initially blamed a hacker for the incident, before blaming a staff member and apologizing. The tweet led Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to publicly declare the case “embarrassing” for Texas and “reprehensible.”

Miller was criticized last year for posting on Facebook that billionaire George Soros funded nationwide protests against the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

He is represented by Jonathan Mitchell in Austin and Gene Hamilton at the American First Legal Foundation in Washington. The foundation is headed by former White House adviser and immigration opponent Stephen Miller, who has no known connection to the plaintiff.

Monday’s trial comes four days after the foundation also sued the Biden administration on behalf of Republicans in Texas for refusing to deport unaccompanied migrant Central American children under the Trump administration’s Title 42, resulting in overcrowding in federal detention facilities on the border with Mexico.

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