Howard requested a speedy trial in the case and wrote that while Congress intended to “remedy a long, sad history of discrimination” through the payments under the bill, that it also must “heed its obligation to do away with governmentally imposed discrimination based on race.”
“On the record before the Court, it appears that in adopting Section 1005’s strict race-based debt relief remedy Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care,” she wrote. “Indeed, the remedy chosen and provided in Section 1005 appears to fall well short of the delicate balance accomplished when a legislative enactment employs race in a narrowly tailored manner to address a specific compelling governmental interest.”
CNN reached out to the USDA for comment on Thursday.
Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed the lawsuit in May on behalf of the Florida farmer, said the injunction enforces that “government can’t treat people unequally based on immutable characteristics like race.”
“The government can’t allow some people to take part in federal programs while denying others based solely on the color of their skin. The courts have rightfully rejected such discrimination in the past and should do so now,” Wen Fa, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday.
John Boyd Jr., a fourth-generation farmer and founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association who is has filed amicus briefs in the lawsuits against the debt relief program, told CNN he is “very disappointed” by the decision and called it a “travesty.”
“It is a shame this federal judge clearly doesn’t understand what discrimination is. It’s black and other farmers of color who have been discriminated against by USDA in all its program(s). Addressing decades long discrimination in the debt relief provision is not unconstitutional,” Boyd, Jr. said in a text message Thursday, adding that he would continue advocate for relief. “This decision records in present time just how bad race relations are between Black and White farmers in America.”
Read More: Florida judge blocks USDA debt relief payments to farmers of color