S.C. joins lawsuit over potential loss of USDA nutrition program funding

Wilson, Biden
Wilson, Biden(AP)
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 2:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Wilson joined 21 other attorneys general in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against new guidance on sex discrimination for schools and programs that receive federal nutritional assistance. The lawsuit names the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

On May 5, 2022, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services issued guidance to South Carolina and other States announcing that discrimination based on sex in Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to Wilson’s letter, the guidance puts South Carolina’s Title IX and SNAP school lunch funding at risk.

“I’m not going to stand by and let the Biden administration hold school lunches hostage over radical ideology,” Wilson said. “This administration continues to try to redefine its role, but no matter what they want to do, this administration can’t redefine its executive power defined in the Constitution. The fact remains that the president did not follow the law in trying to implement this.”

In the lawsuit, the attorneys general argue:

  • It was issued without providing the State 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 of whom 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, a coalition of 26 state attorneys general called on President Biden to withdraw the USDA’s guidance. You can read their letter to President Biden here.

Joining the lawsuit with South Carolina, led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, are the attorneys general of the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To read the complaint, click here.

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