Two of Trump’s former top aides have a new pet project: arguing that part of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief bill is racist against white people.
A lawsuit filed in Texas by America First Legal, a new group formed by former Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, argues that aid earmarked for non-white farmers is discriminatory. The group is representing Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller in the suit, who is suing in his capacity as a private citizen and a farmer.
The complaint, filed Monday against Biden’s Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, hinges on the claim that the Department of Agriculture is being discriminatory by interpreting “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” to mean members of racial minorities such as “African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders.”
The lawsuit cites a dizzying array of examples—from Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech, to Sid Miller’s allegedly “2% African-American” ancestry—to argue that the interpretation is “patently unconstitutional.”
The suit argues that targeting only non-white farmers for federal aid ignores the racial prejudice historically experienced by Irish, Italian, German, Jewish, and Eastern European peoples. These groups, the complaint says, should be included in the Department of Agriculture’s definition of “socially disadvantaged.”
It also claims that excluding farmers like Miller, who claims to have marginal African ancestry, from receiving aid relies on a “blood-quantum” cutoff that lacks legal foundation. The Department of Agriculture did not immediately return requests for comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit’s references to Martin Luther King Jr., as well as its description of modern America as a “beautiful, complex, and increasingly interwoven fabric of racial backgrounds” may raise some eyebrows, given that Miller pushed immigration policies in the Trump administration that were often accused of being racist.
The Biden administration’s initiative to help farmers from historically marginalized groups is part of the White House’s wider racial equity agenda as well as its $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
The lawsuit refers to funds estimated to be as much as $5 billion set aside for farmers and ranchers who belong to these marginalized groups. That $5 billion is part of at least $10.4 billion earmarked for agricultural support and recovery in Biden’s massive stimulus package passed in March, dubbed the American Rescue Plan.
Earlier this month, Stephen Miller told The Wall Street Journal that the idea for America First Legal came out of seeing litigation groups like the American Civil Liberties Union be “extraordinarily effective” at slowing down White House initiatives during the Trump administration.
“There’s no counterpoint to that on our side,” Miller said. The immediate aim of America First Legal, he said, is to challenge Biden administration initiatives that run contrary to the values of the Trump administration, though Miller said he’s set his sights on taking on Big Tech and supporting police officers. This lawsuit is the first filed by America First Legal.