The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
There is another new national injunction against the Biden Administration. Laura Reiley of the Washington Post reports here:
U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard on Wednesday halted loan forgiveness payments and debt relief for disadvantaged farmers anywhere in the United States, according to the Middle District Court of Florida ruling. The lawsuit was filed by White farmer Scott Wynn of Jennings, Fla., who also has farm loans and has faced financial hardship during the pandemic. He said the debt relief program discriminates against him by race.
The court's discussion of the national injunction is on pages 46-48 of its opinion and order, available here. The court noted skepticism of the national injunction from some of the justices, but concluded that if the program goes into effect, it will swiftly use all of its funds, so the only way to preserve funds for the plaintiff was to stop the entire program. In the court's words:
Plaintiff has shown a likelihood of success on the merits of his claim that Section 1005 is unconstitutional and, if implemented, would deprive him of his right to equal protection under the law. The implementation of Section 1005 will be swift and irreversible, meaning the only way to avoid Plaintiff's irreparable harm is to enjoin the program. The Court can envision no other remedy that will prevent the likely violation of Plaintiff's constitutional right which absent an injunction cannot be remedied in this action.
What is perhaps most unusual about this remedial decision is a footnote: "The Court reaches this conclusion without regard to any incidental benefit to other similarly situated White farmers." In other words, the court gave its injunction universal effect on no other ground than that doing so was necessary to protect the plaintiff. I have not read the briefing in the case, so I don't know what arguments may have been presented by the federal government. But an all-or-nothing remedy for just this one plaintiff seems implausible, since if the court were trying to craft a plaintiff-specific injunction, and considered the full range of its equitable powers, it could have ordered the defendant to set aside funds sufficient for whatever claim the plaintiff might make (were his application to be considered without respect to race).