More than a decade ago, American Indian farmers claimed the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against them for…more than a decade. National Public Radio reports the class action lawsuit’s lead plaintiffs, “George and Marilyn Keepseagle of North Dakota, had sought some $500 million in damages.” This week, Barack Obama’s appointed representatives managed to negotiate them down to $760 million. The Hill newspaper reports, “President Obama praised Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder for reaching the settlement, which he said ‘helps strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship and underscores the federal government’s commitment to treat all citizens fairly.'” The award follows a similar settlement with black farmers who claimed prejudice but before (at least) two additional suits claiming bias against Hispanic and female farmers. The administration’s collaboration with organized minority blackmail efforts and unilateral expropriation of taxpayer dollars — without Congressional approval — is the latest example of Obama’s ongoing, stealth campaign of racial reparations.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack began with the requisite self-flagellation. “Today’s settlement can never undo the wrongs that Native Americans may have experienced in the past decades,” he told conference call of reporters. “But combined with the actions USDA is taking to address these wrongs, this settlement will provide some measure of relief for those who have been discriminated against.”
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His reference to bias Indians “may have experienced” is telling. There is nothing like conclusive evidence of any wrongdoing. After the Bush administration spent eight years fighting dubious accusations of wrongdoing designed to shakedown the U.S. taxpayer, the Obama administration simply ordered the department to pay up. It threw the case to reward heavily Democratic groups with tax dollars.
After whimpering, Vilsack announced the method of redistribution. The Hill newspaper reports, “Under the settlement, $680 million will be paid out in damages, and an $80 million fund to forgive farm debts will be established.” The USDA will begin doling out cash to claimants on a two-track basis: if one can “provide substantial evidence of discrimination,” the USDA will pay $50,000, while those who provide stronger evidence or show signs of real loss will receive “a maximum of $250,000.”
This sounds meaningful, until one realizes the legal definition of “substantial evidence” is “more than a mere scintilla” (Richardson v. Perales), “even if it is possible to draw two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence” (Landes v. Royal). This specifically includes “inferences” (Kuhn v. Department of General Services).
Forty Acres and a Jackass
The settlement is similar to the administration’s payoff to black farmers who claimed USDA discrimination in the Pigford case earlier this year. Carl Horowitz of the National Legal and Policy Center recounts that when charges of USDA “discrimination” surfaced in the 1990s: “[Clinton Ag Secretary Dan] Glickman ordered an immediate review of 956 backlogged discrimination complaints. The review found that in only five of these cases – less than 1 percent – was there evidence of even possible discrimination, a finding the department conveniently suppressed.” Instead, the government opted for full-scale mediation, which resulted in an identical, two-track method. Track A paid $50,000 for a low threshold of proof. From 400 original plaintiffs, “black farmers” filed more than 94,000 claims for cash — several times higher than the number of black farmers. Even at the lower standard, more than 16,000 people who filed a grievance proved incapable of producing a “scintilla” of evidence. The system has already paid out more than $1 billion, and Barack Obama continues to press Congress to pass another $1.25 billion for this oversized pool of “victims.” To date, Congress has refused.