Judge issues order against Biden administration for alleged racial discrimination in COVID-19 restaurant relief

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A federal judge in Texas has issued a temporary restraining order against the Biden administration’s Small Business Administration after a lawsuit accused the government of racial discrimination in the distribution of COVID-19 relief funds.

America First Legal, a legal group founded by ex-senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Texas restaurant owner who lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic and claims the SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund unconstitutionally discriminates against white males by prioritizing women and minorities to receive $28.6 billion in restaurant relief funds as part of the American Rescue Plan.

The lawsuit claims Biden’s coronavirus relief plan orders the SBA “to discriminate among restaurants according to the race and sex of the owner” by instructing the administration to “‘prioritize awarding grants’ to businesses owned by women and racial minorities'” during the first 21 days of the program.

“These race and sex preferences are patently unconstitutional, and the Court should promptly enjoin their enforcement. Doing so will promote equal rights under the law for all American citizens and promote efforts to stop racial discrimination,” the lawsuit claims.

SBA lawyers argued in legal filings that the Restaurant Relief Fund had a “compelling government interest” in “remedying the effects of past and present discrimination” by “supporting small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners … who have borne an outsized burden of economic harms of [the] COVID-19 pandemic.”

But U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas agreed with AFL’s argument in his opinion enjoining Biden’s SBA to process the white restaurant owner’s application for relief and stop prioritizing some applicants over others based on race or sex.

“Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that Defendants’ [the Biden Administration’s] use of race-based and sex-based preferences in the administration of the RRF violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution,” O’Connor wrote.

AFL President Miller issued a statement praising O’Connor’s ruling.

“This ruling is the first, but crucial, step towards ending government-sponsored racial discrimination. We are proud to have obtained this order for our courageous client at this initial stage, but we have a long way to go. America First Legal is on the cutting-edge of the fight for civil rights in America — and we will never back down,” he said.

TheBlaze contacted the Small Business Administration for comment but did not receive a response before publication.

Last month, AFL filed a similar lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture also alleging racial discrimination in the administration of an American Rescue Plan program to provide coronavirus relief benefits to “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,” which the department interpreted to include African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaskan natives, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, but excluded white farmers and ranchers.

Yet another lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on behalf of Antonio Vitolo, the owner of Jake’s Bar and Grill in Harriman, Tennessee, claims that SBA unconstitutionally discriminated against Vitolo, a white male, after he applied for coronavirus relief funds on May 3 but was told the administration would “only process and fund priority group applications” for the first 21 days of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program.

The Biden administration announced May 10 that it approved applications from more than 16,000 women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners in the first round of economic relief from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. More than $2 billion of relief has been awarded since the program began.