Southeastern Legal Foundation Attorney Cece O’Leary Gives Updates as Judge Rules American Rescue Act Unconstitutional

Southeastern Legal Foundation Attorney Cece O’Leary Gives Updates as Judge Rules American Rescue Act Unconstitutional

 

Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed attorney with the Southeastern Legal Foundation, Cece O’Leary, who gave updates on the pending USDA lawsuit as judge rules American Rescue Act unconstitutional.

Leahy: We are joined on our Newsmaker Line by Attorney O’Leary with the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Good morning, Cece.

O’Leary: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Leahy: We’re delighted to have you on here. So you have an update for us about this USDA lawsuit. Tell us about this.

O’Leary: Yeah, absolutely. So under the leadership of President Biden, the federal government has essentially been hiding behind COVID relief to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race.

And they’re doing this in all sorts of ways. In this particular instance, under the American Rescue Plan Act, the government has been forgiving the loans of non-White farmers.

But it’s denying that same loan forgiveness to White farmers, and this is discriminatory. It’s unconstitutional. And so along with Mountain States Legal Foundation, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of a farmer here in Tennessee to put a stop to this.

And fortunately, just last week, the court issued an opinion where they saw through the government scheme. The court agreed with us and held that this program is not constitutional. It does not stand for equality. And it held that the government must immediately stop this program.

Leahy: Now, help me with this. Is this a recently past statute that is involved in this? Is this the American Plan Act? ARPA?

O’Leary: That’s exactly right. It’s even bigger than a statute honestly. This is part of a concerted effort by the government since pretty much the day that President Biden took office.

Back in January, Biden issued a directive, an executive order all about equity, where he wanted the government to push for more equity.

As a result of that, in March, the government passed the American Rescue Plan Act, which is meant to be a COVID relief bill. But under the Act, the government is really just hiding behind COVID to push this equity agenda.

They are treating individuals differently. They are granting COVID relief and loan forgiveness to minority farmers, but they are not granting that same relief to White farmers.

If you are a White farmer who has been directly impacted by COVID, and let’s say that you suffered from the disease or somebody who works on your farm suffered from the disease, and you had to shut down the farm for a couple of months, that can have a severe impact economically on you.

And I would think you’d be entitled to that relief. The government doesn’t care. The government is not going to give you that relief solely because of the color of your skin.

And we are seeing this in a variety of areas across the spectrum coming from the Biden administration.

Leahy: Cece, if you could elaborate a little bit, there’s a statute, which is the American Rescue Plan Act. When did that pass? In March or so this year?

O’Leary: Yes. That was in March.

Leahy: It passed in March. So there’s a statute, and then there’s a regulation, apparently. I don’t know if it’s a temporary regulation or permanent regulation implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture about how to implement this law.

Does the language of the statute is that racially discriminatory against non-Whites?

O’Leary: Yes. So specifically, what we are suing on is Section 1005 of the statute. This statute essentially gives funding to what they call ‘socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.’

Now, with legislation, often a definition for something is not easy to locate. You have to jump through a couple of hoops to find the definition.

As you go back through the legislation, eventually, what you learn is that when they say socially disadvantaged, they mean Black, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific Hawaiian, and all these minority races that are not White. But what it comes down to is the color of your skin, your race.

So, to answer your question, yes. This is both in the legislation and the regulation that the federal agency is promulgating, and it ultimately comes down to the color of one’s skin.

Leahy: So the statute itself is unconstitutional.

O’Leary: Correct.

Leahy: I’m looking at how it passed. It passed the Senate 50 to 49 and it passed the House to 220 to 211. It looks like it was entirely partisan here.

O’Leary: That’s correct.

Leahy: Was it like a thousand pages passed in one day with some staffers throwing this language in?

O’Leary: You probably have a better idea of how long it was than I do, (Leahy chuckles) but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was that long.

Leahy: And this is how they do it.

O’Leary: Right. Exactly.

Leahy: What is the legal argument in favor of discrimination in favor of non-Whites and against Whites? What’s the legal argument for that presented in this statute?

O’Leary: The government kind of has two theories going, two reasons going for this statute. Number one, they’re saying that COVID has impacted minorities more than any other group. And number two, with relation to this particular section about farmers, they are saying that there is a history of discrimination within the U.S Department of Agriculture.

We do not deny that there is a sordid history of discrimination in the agricultural field. For years, minority farmers were denied loans, or rates were jacked up against minority farmers.

This is absolutely true that there has been a history of discrimination. However, the government has not offered any evidence of discrimination against farmers within at least the past 20 years.

So it seems that discrimination has essentially been rooted out within the USDA, and it kind of hints that Congress is really hiding behind COVID to push this equity agenda.

The second issue with their reasoning is that COVID does not discriminate by race. The pandemic affects people of all colors. And when you are passing a law where you are going to have race be a factor, race has to be an absolute last resort.

You cannot rely on race to root out discrimination unless it is the absolute narrowest means to achieve your goal. As I mentioned here, if you are a White farmer who has been directly impacted by COVID, the government doesn’t care.

You won’t get the COVID relief that you might be entitled to. Similarly, if you are a non-White farmer, you might not have suffered a day because of COVID.

You might have been able to operate your farm completely normally without any economic harm. Again, the government doesn’t care. Because you are not White, you are still entitled to loan relief.

This really comes down to the color of one’s skin and it is well-settled law that the government cannot just pick and choose which race to award relief to or to grant certain benefits to.

We need to return to this principle of equality, right? Where all races are equal, where we don’t see the color of one’s skin, instead of what the government is trying to promote, which is equity.

Leahy: I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here, right? Doesn’t the federal government advocate have a duty to correct the injustices from about two centuries of slavery that ended in 1865 and about a century of discrimination that ended, depending on when you look at it, in 1970 probably with the federal statutes?

If you’re saying there was some potential discrimination against non-Whites in the administration of the Department of Agriculture programs ending, as you say in 1990, doesn’t the government have a duty to address those past sins?

O’Leary: The government has a duty to protect the Constitution, first and foremost. And it is a long-standing principle in our nation that equality is enshrined in our founding.

It’s enshrined in our Constitution. It is what we have fought and died for. And equality is treating individuals the same regardless of the color of their skin.

Leahy: Will this case go to the Supreme Court, and how will the Supreme Court decide on it?

O’Leary: That’s a great question. We are hoping that the case doesn’t need to go to the Supreme Court. It would be great if the government would stop discriminating on the basis of race, but we’ll see if the government will actually stop.

If it does get to the Supreme Court, we are ready to fight. It’s disappointing that our elected government officials do not value equality as they should.

But the good news is that our framers had such foresight when they were drafting our Constitution that they put checks and balances and separation of powers into play, and so we will continue to put these matters before the courts.

The courts take this issue very seriously, and we expect that if it does get to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will strike this down as unconstitutional.

Leahy: Cece O’Leary with the Southeastern Legal Foundation, thanks for joining us. Come back, if you would, please.

O’Leary: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Cece O’Leary” by Cece O’Leary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southeastern Legal Foundation’s Braden Boucek on Anti-Racist Training: ‘Pits Us All Against Each Other’

Southeastern Legal Foundation’s Braden Boucek on Anti-Racist Training: ‘Pits Us All Against Each Other’

 

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Southeastern Legal Foundation’s Director of Litigation Braden Boucek to the newsmakers line to discuss the antiracist training lawsuit filed with the Evanston-Skokie school district in Illinois.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by our good friend, Braden Bosek, who is a director of litigation at the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Good morning, Braden.

Boucek: Good morning, Michael. A pleasure to be on.

Leahy: Well, when last we spoke, you were affiliated with The Beacon Center here in Tennessee. Now you’re the director of litigation at the Southeastern Legal Foundation down in Atlanta. Boy, do you have a case on your hands?

Boucek: We sure do. Yep. It’s been exciting.

Leahy: I read the outline of the allegations there and I’m gonna call these allegations “incredible.” That is hard to believe, not credible, that a school system would do what is included in these allegations.

I just go down the list of all the things that this White teacher in the Evanston-Skokie school district in Illinois says he’s being required to do. I mean, it’s a lot of stuff. He’s got to participate in antiracist training as evidenced by the lawsuit.

The training instructs teachers to accept that White individuals “loud, authoritative, and controlling.” Understand that being “less White.” “Less racially oppressive.”

Acknowledge that “White identity is inherently racist.” Denounce “White privilege and participate in, ‘privilege walks’ where they must stand in line and separate themselves according to statements relating to their race or color.” They aren’t really doing that in that district, are they, Braden?

Boucek: That’s exactly what they’re doing in the district. And you don’t have to take our word for it. It’s all based on documents that they publicly proclaim. It’s in their lesson plans.

It’s on their district’s equity glossary, which is on their website, and it’s in their vision statements. So they have bought in hook line and sinker into an antiracist training and they’ll publicly shout it from there after that.

Leahy: Again, I guess the word is incredible. I can’t believe it. It is so racist against this White teacher. What kind of reaction have you received after you filed this? And would you file this in federal district court? Where did you file the case?

Boucek: We filed this in federal district court in Chicago. And obviously, everybody is concerned about the sort of woke curriculum that you see here in Tennessee or in some of these other schools.

And what’s happening in Chicago is what happens when the woke curriculum that we see in Tennessee is allowed to grow up and bear fruit. And it was only a matter of time. But we’ve got to get these things before federal judges. We’ve got to allege the equal protection violation in the Civil Rights Act, and we’ve got to stop these things.

Leahy: Evanston-Skokie, isn’t Evanston a fairly affluent suburb of Chicago?

Boucek: Yeah, that’s my understanding as well. But this is an ideology that draws a certain type of progressive intellectual, and they find it irresistible. And District 65 has bought into it hook line sinker.

Leahy: The officials there are Devin Horton, who’s the Superintendent of the Evanston-Skokie school district. Latarsha Green, who is the Deputy Superintendent of District 65, and then Stacey Beardsley, who is the Assistant Superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

All three of those officials are part of the staff that put this together. And then there’s a Board of Education, right? Did the board actually approve this stuff?

Boucek: Oh, yes. This is a board-approved curriculum. And I’d invite anybody to go to our website if they want to actually see a list of these things because as you pointed out, they really just have to be read to be believed.

And you can go to Slfliberty.org, which is our website, and look for our coverage on this. Our complaint is there, which is the actual formal legal document that we filed. And in the third paragraph, we have an image from a book.

Leahy: I’m looking at it right now. (Chuckles) Describe it.

Boucek: The book from PreK. Well, the book is called Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness. And the image that you’re looking at that we put so prominently, no complaint is a picture of a White devil holding up a contract for stolen land and stolen property. And all you got to do is exchange your soul.

And the caption, says, “Whiteness is a bad deal and it always has been.” And again, that’s in the curriculum. And that’s shown to kids as young as Pre-K.

Leahy: I’m looking at it. Item three in your litigation in your complaint says what Superintendent Devin Horton means by ‘antiracist’ looks like the following image from a lesson taught to District 65 elementary school students.

And on one side of the page, it says, highlighted in red, Whiteness is a bad deal. It always was. And then it’s got one of these little air bubbles where it’s written in ‘dude, we can see your pointy tail.’

This is given to elementary school students. And then on the other page, it’s this White devil with a pointy red tail. And then it looks like a receipt with money on it. And it says, contract binding you to Whiteness.

You get stolen land, stolen riches, special favor. Whiteness gets to mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and all fellow humans of color. Your soul, sign below.

Land riches and favors may be revoked at any time for any reason. This is what they’re teaching elementary schools in the Evanston-Skokie School District an affluent suburb of Chicago. How long have they been doing that?

Boucek: At least since 2017. And you’ve described in great detail what the curriculum looks like. But what it really is is it’s teaching non-White kids to hate. And it’s teaching White kids to hate themselves.

And all of it is unconstitutional. We’ve been through this before. There is a robust body of law about treating school children differently on the basis of race.

Leahy: You said something very significant. Our schools, at least this school system is teaching White children to hate themselves. We’ve seen a lot of reports here in Williamson County.

There’s a group I’m sure you’re familiar with them called Moms for Liberty. And they have brought in parents talking about their children who are upset with their own history. I think some even mentioned the kids were almost suicidal, didn’t want to go to school. It’s a terrible, terrible thing. It’s child abuse, in my view.

Boucek: It’s a dangerously destructive ideology. And I know the stories you’re talking about in Williamson County about the child of biracial parents that came home and said she didn’t want to be White anymore.

It promotes a view of race essentialism that lumps us all into various categories and then pits us all against each other. Oppressor or oppressed. And that just has no business in the school, whether in Tennessee or Chicago.

Leahy: It is, in fact, the antithesis of the American character of individualism and self-reliance, and respect for other people. You’ve got in your complaint, I think an excellent description of the difference between equity, which is all the rage these days among the elite, and equality.

Let me just read this and get your reaction. You say in the complaint, equity is very different than equality. Although the two are sometimes confused. Equality is a principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law through the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As District 65 in Evanston-Skokie, Illinois itself has recognized, equality is about sameness in treating everyone in an identical manner regardless of their race.

Equity is about so-called justice and individuals getting what “they need and deserve.” Said another way, equality strives for equal opportunity while equity strives for equal outcomes. How did equity replace equality?

Boucek: That’s exactly what’s going on is that they’re trying to swap out equality with equity. And we thought it was very important that we pull up these terms so people become familiar with them because equity is becoming a buzzword that’s being kicked around with a great deal of promiscuity these days.

And it’s an innocuous-sounding term. It’s even a noble goal. But the problem is, However desirable, equity, maybe equality is a non-negotiable constitutional command. Of all of the American freedoms, the self-evident truth that all men are created equal is the one that we have fought and bled for more than any other one. And I’m thinking about Valley Forge. I

‘m thinking about the blood-soaked fields of Antietam. I’m thinking about Marines rating across a coral reef and Tarawa. And I’m thinking about the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We have fought so long and hard to live up to the standard that all men are created equal based on race.

We just can’t and have afforded any kind of backsliding now. And that’s really what happens starting in 2017. They just decided we can’t wait anymore, we need to go ahead and tilt the scales to get to equity now.

But everybody needs to know what equity means. Equity is not equality. Equity is a license to punish Americans for their skin color. And it’s precisely why the Civil Rights Movement existed in the first place.

Leahy: Braden Boucek with the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Can you stick with us through the break? We’ll have more when we get back.

Boucek: Absolutely.

Listen to the first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Braden Boucek” by The Federalist Society. Background Photo “Classroom” by Educators .co.uk. CC BY 2.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Counsel Kim Herman of Southeastern Legal Talks U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Discrimination Against White Farmers

General Counsel Kim Herman of Southeastern Legal Talks U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Discrimination Against White Farmers

 

Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed General Counsel Kim Herman of the Southeastern Legal to the newsmakers line to discuss her newly filed case against the federal government for discriminating against White farmers seeking COVID relief loan forgiveness and fighting federally funded racism in K-12 schools.

Leahy: I am delighted to welcome on the newsmaker line, the general counsel for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, Kim Herman. Good morning, Kim.

Herman: Good morning. How are you?

Leahy: Well, you guys are heroes of mine because your group succeeded in getting the Supreme Court in 2019 to reject the ridiculous EPA Waters of the U.S. Rule. Congratulations. That was fantastic.

Herman: Thank you. Thank you. It was a lot of fun to take the case up there and to win it also.

Leahy: Were you arguing in the Supreme Court, or were you just present? Did you hire an outside firm to do the arguments?

Herman: We actually brought the case with a number of other public interest law firms. And so I did not personally argue it, but I was there just to be part of the team and to work on the case.

It was our second big win against EPA in the last 10 years up at the U.S. Supreme Court. And to be up there for a second time, it’s just surreal.

Leahy: The EPA was suing farmers who had basically little creeks that they were trying to move around. It was just crazy. Totally crazy.

Herman: With one sweep of the pen, basically, the EPA took jurisdiction over every single piece of property in the entire country. And I guarantee people don’t even realize it, but for most of your listeners, it means they could come in and regulate your personal property.

Leahy: It was crazy. So Congratulations on that. Last week, the Southeastern Legal Foundation and Mountain States Legal Foundation found the lawsuit in federal court challenging the unconstitutional race discrimination in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farmer and Rancher Loan forgiveness program.

The challenged provision in the America Rescue Plan Act of 2020. Wait for this…provides automatic loan forgiveness of up to 120 percent of the loan amount for farmers and ranchers unless they are White. Tell us more about this.

Herman: We teamed up with Mountain State Legal Foundation. And on behalf of a great mama rancher who’s a sixth-generation rancher out in Wyoming, we filed this lawsuit because, as we all know, the government cannot discriminate against people because of their race. And that is exactly what they are doing here.

It is black letter law. They put it right into the COVID rescue plan if you can call it a rescue plan. But into this COVID relief bill that was signed under Biden that farmers and ranchers if you have a loan with the government, you’re going to get automatic loan forgiveness, and then you’re going to get a check for 20 percent of the loan value unless you are white. It violates the Constitution.

Leahy: Unless you are White. That’s plainly a violation of the Constitution. No question about it. It is racial discrimination against White farmers. Now, this was filed in the United States District Court in the District of Wyoming. What’s going to happen with this case?

Herman: Well, we just filed it. And so now we’re going to have to go through the process of litigating it. But yesterday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, so that’s in your area, issued a really great opinion in a case challenging a similar program under the Small Business Administration, where they were favoring what they call ‘socially disadvantaged’ business owners and giving them relief money over Whites.

And the Sixth Circuit came down and said, you cannot do that. That violates the Constitution. So we’re going to move this case as fast as we can in the District of Wyoming to get a similar ruling up there in our case.

Leahy: It sounds like you are optimistic that you win this case. Will it ultimately go to the Supreme Court of the United States?

Herman: That depends on how hard the government wants to dig in. But with the Biden administration, I wouldn’t put it past them. We’ve got a couple of more cases that we’re going to be filing challenging this exact same program all throughout the country.

We need to bring as many lawsuits as we can to challenge racial discrimination that we can right now because it’s not just in this area. As you know, it’s in our schools. It’s in our K-12 schools.

We’ve got state-sanctioned racism and state-sanctioned discrimination in every single facet of our lives right now. And we won’t stop until we root that out. So yes, if we need to take it up to the Supreme Court, we absolutely will.

Leahy: So let’s talk in general about state-sanctioned racism in our K12 public schools funded 10 percent by the federal government. The federal government apparently, is putting together a rule that would require the teaching of critical race theory in schools, that of course, will be litigated.

But broadly speaking, do you see this kind of litigation where the Democrats have codified racial discrimination against White people and others? Do you see an increasing level of litigation coming against the federal government and perhaps against school systems, and against publicly traded corporations that are implementing similar policies?

Herman: Oh, absolutely. I can tell you right now, we’re gearing up about five to six lawsuits against school districts throughout the country challenging unlawful and unconstitutional critical race theory.

We’ve got some schools that are showing middle schoolers videos about George Floyd and then separating students by race into different rooms and teaching them different lessons. It baffles me that our public education system is doing this, and it doesn’t get more discriminatory than that. You just cannot treat people differently because of their race. End stop period. It’s in the Constitution.

Leahy: My guess is that you will succeed with those challenges ultimately.

Herman: I sure hope so. I’ve been really encouraged by all the parents that are coming forward and wanting to challenge this, especially in places where most people wouldn’t expect it.

A recent poll came out and over 80 percent of the parents polled do not want this in our K-12 schools. You wouldn’t know that if you watch watching mainstream media but over 80 percent do not want this because they know that it’s discriminatory. All it does is to divide our country and teach our kids to hate each other.

Leahy: Let me ask you this. Are publicly traded companies that are implementing what they call diversity, equity, and inclusion mandatory training programs that many people argue are, in fact, also racist, are they in any legal jeopardy from lawsuits?

Herman: They are in a different way. We as a public interest law firm. It is a 501 (C) (3), we sue the government because that is what our mission is and that is what our charter is.

But, yes, there are employees that can certainly bring hostile work environment claims. The laws of our country, the federal laws prohibit discrimination based on race. If they were doing this and turn the table and they were doing it and they were discriminating against minorities, you can bet there would be lawsuits all over the place.

And there should be no discrimination in this country. And so, yes, lawsuits are going to be brought. I have no doubt. And I have no doubt that many of those employees are going to win those cases.

Leahy: The mission of the Southeastern Legal Foundation is to just sue the federal government, state government, and local government school systems? Are you limited to that?

Herman: No. We do a lot of property rights work, as you mentioned with our Waters of the United States case in our EPA case. When the government infringes on your constitutional rights, on your individual liberty, on your equal protection, on your free speech, that’s when we can step in and we can sue the government on your behalf.

Leahy: Wow. That sounds very interesting. If somebody out there wanted to support the Southeastern Legal Foundation, how would they do that? Do you say you’re a 501 (C) (3)?

Herman: We are we’re a nonprofit. We provide all of our legal services to our clients completely pro-Bono, so completely free. They can find us at slfliberty.org.

Leahy: And if they want to make a donation to your 501 (C) (3), they could do that as well?

Herman: They absolutely can. They can do it there with the donate button. So I appreciate that. Thank you.

Leahy: Well, we’re happy to do that. You are based in the Atlanta area, which is I think now a growing center for all of the issues going on in the country down in Atlanta. We certainly are delighted to have you on Kim Herman, the General Counsel for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, and on the web at Slfliberty.org. Will you please come back and tell us more about these cases as they go forward?

Herman: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’d love to.

Leahy: Kim Herman with the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Thanks so much for joining us today. A great interview.

Listen to the full show  here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.