Victory For Equality: Judge Denies Government Request to Delay Case Challenging Discriminatory Farm Loan Program

Jackson, Tennessee: On August 2, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee denied the government’s request to halt Southeastern Legal Foundation ‘s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality President Biden’s recently enacted program of forgiving loans for farmers based on the color of their skin. The government asked the Court to stay the proceedings shortly after it lost nationwide preliminary injunction, one of only two in the nation, with the judge ruling that that the program was almost certainly unconstitutional. The ruling sets up this case to be the first to issue a final ruling declaring the farm loan program unconstitutional.

The case was brought by Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) and Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) on behalf of Rob Holman, a farmer from Union City, TN, whose family had been farming the same land in Obion County for generations. Holman had farm loans with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) but was ineligible for loan forgiveness solely because he was white.

The farm loan forgiveness program was a signature piece of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Relief Act. As part of President Biden’s directive to promote “equity,” the loan forgiveness program paid off the loans of black, Hispanic, American Indian, Native Alaskan and Hawaiian farmers, and awarded them an additional 20% of the value as a cash payment.

According to Braden H. Boucek, the Director of Litigation for SLF, “The Biden administration continues trying to delay the inevitable—this program is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and flat out wrong. Americans cannot be expected to run on the government’s timetable while their rights hang in the balance.”

Cece O’Leary, attorney for SLF, said, “Americans have fought too long and too hard to guarantee equality under the law to accept backsliding and delay. When the government tries to treat its citizens differently based on their skin color, it’s an urgent matter. SLF will not waver in its commitment to hold the government accountable to the promises it makes to its citizens. We’ve successfully fought against state-sanctioned racism for decades. We will do so here, and sooner rather than later.”