The deal in early 2021 was hailed by advocates for Black farmers as the most significant piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — about $4 billion in President Biden’s massive pandemic stimulus package to rectify decades of discrimination. Minority farmers began investing in new machinery and other improvements, anticipating tens of thousands of dollars in government aid.
But today, the landmark deal on behalf of historically disadvantaged farmers is dead — successfully challenged in court by a fledgling conservative organization that argued the program racially discriminated against White farmers.
America First Legal is headed by Stephen Miller, the architect of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants. While AFL lacks the name recognition and financial heft of many conservative counterparts, it has racked up notable court victories over the Biden administration. Casting itself as “the long-awaited answer to the ACLU,” AFL has weaponized the grievance politics embodied by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement through dozens of federal lawsuits, challenging efforts to remedy racial disparities, support LGBTQ students and expand the pool of early voters.
AFL-backed suits helped doom a $29 billion program that prioritized struggling female and minority-owned restaurants last year, and last week, a council created by the Department of Education that conservative parents groups viewed as partisan. AFL has won in part by consistently filing lawsuits in a conservative-friendly judicial district in Texas and taking advantage of a larger federal court system revamped by Trump’s predominantly conservative nominees.
The group’s success is alarming civil rights advocates, who fear Miller has figured out how to harness the courts to protect America’s declining White majority and unravel government policies intended to right historical wrongs against marginalized communities. [Continue reading…]