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Case Name McKinney v. Vilsack PB-TX-0019
Docket / Court 2:21-cv-212 ( E.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Challenges to minority benefits in Biden Administration American Rescue Plan
Case Summary
This case is one of several brought challenging the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) classification of “socially disadvantaged groups.”

A white farmer from Naples, Texas filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ( ... read more >
This case is one of several brought challenging the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) classification of “socially disadvantaged groups.”

A white farmer from Naples, Texas filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall) on June 10, 2021. The two defendants were the Secretary of Agriculture (who leads the USDA) and the administrator of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). Plaintiff challenged Section 1005 of ARP which offered loan forgiveness only to farmers who qualified as "socially disadvantaged." The USDA, for the purposes of Section 1005, defined a "socially disadvantaged group" as African Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. Plaintiff claimed that "[b]ut for his race, [he] would be eligible" under Section 1005 and argued that Section 1005 violated the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). He asserted that Section 1005’s blanket classifications were not narrowly tailored nor “intended or designed to remedy specific instances of racial discrimination.” He further argued that because Section 1005 violated equal protection, the USDA’s adherence to it would be an “unlawful agency action” under the APA. Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, $1 in nominal damages, and attorney's fees. He was represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit who defends those “threatened by government overreach and abuse.”

Judge Rodney Gilstrap was initially assigned. However, he was recused and replaced with Judge Robert W. Schroeder, III on June 11, 2021.

Plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction on June 17, 2021. He alleged that "white farmers and ranchers are categorically excluded" from Section 1005 relief. As a result, white farmers were irreparably harmed by an apparent denial of equal protection under the law. Plaintiff cited the Fifth Circuit's decision in Dec. Distributed v. United States Dep't of State which held that "irreparable harm occurs whenever a constitutional right is deprived, even for a short period of time."

The government moved to stay all proceedings pending the resolution of the class action challenges to Section 1005 in Miller v. Vilsack (PB-TX-0017) on July 12, 2021. In Miller, the district court had both preliminarily enjoined the enforcement of Section 1005 and certified two classes of farmers bringing similar claims of discrimination.

Judge Schroeder granted the motion to stay on August 30, 2021. As of October 2021, the case was stayed pending the resolution of Miller.

Eric Gripp - 08/10/2021
Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 10/31/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
American Rescue Plan (ARP)
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Lending
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Funding
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
White
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Defendant(s) Farm Service Agency
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Plaintiff Description A farmer from Naples, Texas.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 06/10/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  McKinney v. Vilsack: Race-based COVID-19 farm loan forgiveness denies equal treatment to Texas farmer
Pacific Legal Foundation
Date: Jun. 10, 2021
(Pacific Legal Foundation)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Tex.
08/30/2021
2:21-cv-00212-RWS
PB-TX-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Tex.
06/10/2021
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PB-TX-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
07/12/2021
Defendants' Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Resolution of Related Class Action [ECF# 24]
PB-TX-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
08/30/2021
Order [ECF# 40]
PB-TX-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Schroeder, Robert William III (E.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0003 | PB-TX-0019-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fa, Wencong M (California) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0001 | PB-TX-0019-9000
Kieser, Christopher M (California) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0001 | PB-TX-0019-9000
Roper, Glenn Evans (Colorado) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0001 | PB-TX-0019-9000
Thompson, Joshua Paul (California) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0001 | PB-TX-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Boynton, Brian M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0002
Farby, Lesley (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0002
Feldon, Gary Daniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0002
Knapp, Michael Fraser (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0002 | PB-TX-0019-9000
Newton, Emily Sue (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0002
Snow, Kyla (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-0002
Other Lawyers Chen, Randolph T (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-9000
Culpepper, Jessica Leigh (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-9000
Muraskin, David Samuel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0019-9000

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