Rep. Tiffany Grills AG Merrick Garland on Race-Based Loan Relief for Black Farmers

Merrick Garland
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Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday about the portion of the American Rescue Plan that provides billions of dollars in loan relief to black farmers based exclusively on race.

As Breitbart News previously reported, the courts have put the plans on hold, citing that race shouldn’t be the basis of receiving federal assistance, and lawsuits have been filed on behalf of white farmers who claim it discriminates against them even if they also face steep debts.

“The equal protection clause was incorporated into the Fifth Amendment to prevent the federal government from discriminating against Americans based on race,” Tiffany said. “Do you agree that race is a suspect classification.”

Garland agreed, citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent but would not answer whether the provision of the law is discriminatory. 

“The so-called American rescue plan earmark billions of dollars in United States Department of Agriculture debt relief based solely on race,” Tiffany said. “Why are you and your department defending the American Rescue Plan that discriminates based on race?”

Garland said the case before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits the Department of Agriculture from using racially discriminatory criteria when implementing the loan forgiveness program for farmers and ranchers found in section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan Act, comes down to whether there is “sufficient evidence of historical practices” targeting black farmers.

“It’s very explicit in the bill that the Democrats wrote in this Congress and President Biden signed into law, they said, ‘This is based on race. Doesn’t this meet the standard of what is pure discrimination?” Tiffany asked.

“I believe the question has to do with historical patterns of discrimination against black farmers, and I believe that the purpose of what’s going on in the district court now is examining the record to determine whether there is a sufficient record in that respect,” Garland said. 

“So it sounds like you support the legislation,” Tiffany said, to which Garland replied

The question for us is the constitutionality of the legislation. That’s the only question before us and the as I said with respect to another statute, the Justice Department defends the constitutionality of statutes that can be reasonably construed as constitutional and we believe that statute can be, yes.

The case is Miller v. Vilsack, No. 4:21-cv-00595, before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

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