Lawsuit filed after threats of Biden withholding nutrition assistance
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and 21 Attorneys General filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Biden Administration, challenging its new guidance on sex discrimination for schools and programs that receive federal nutrition assistance. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee.
“Children and families in need rely on these programs for sustenance,” said Fitch. “This is not the place or time for President Biden to be playing politics and pushing an agenda far out-of-step with the American people.”
On May 5, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services issued guidance to Mississippi and other States applying the Administration’s novel reading of discrimination on the basis of sex discrimination into the Food and Nutrition Act. The Administration has sought to apply the Supreme Court’s holding in Bostock v. Clayton County very expansively to include discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity to a wide variety of government programs. The USDA guidance at issue in this case puts Mississippi’s Title IX and SNAP school lunch funding at risk.
In the lawsuit, the Attorneys General argue the USDA’s Guidance is unlawful because:
- It was issued without providing the States and other stakeholders the opportunity for input as required by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
- The USDA premised its Guidance on an obvious misreading and misapplication of the Supreme Court’s holding in Bostock v. Clayton County.
- The Guidance imposes new and unlawful regulatory measures on state agencies and operators receiving federal financial assistance from the USDA. This will inevitably result in regulatory chaos that threatens essential nutritional services to some of the most vulnerable citizens.
The National School Lunch Program services nearly 30 million school children each day, many who rely on it for breakfast, lunch, or both.
Approximately 100,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential childcare institutions receive federal funding to provide subsidized free or reduced-price meals for qualifying children. On June 14th, General Fitch joined a coalition of 26 state Attorneys General calling on President Biden to withdraw the USDA’s guidance.
Joining the lawsuit, led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, are the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
To read the complaint, click here.