COVID-19 Relief in Violation of 14th Amendment

A federal appellate court delivered a blow to President Joe Biden’s heralded COVID-19 relief bill. On Thursday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the $1.9 trillion piece of COVID-19 relief legislation was in violation of the rights of restaurant owners.

Details of Relief Bill Provision

The issue at hand was a section of the bill that stated that priority funding for restaurant recovery efforts is to be provided to those that fit certain minority profiles from a set of specific countries. The $29 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program was set up to give funding to private restaurant owners during the COVID-19 crisis.

The intention of the provision was to allegedly help those struggling the most during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. However, the court found that the bill discriminated against white restaurant owners and violated the 14th Amendment.

Appellate Court Ruling

Judge Amul Thapar wrote the majority opinion for the case. Appointed by former President Donald Trump, Thapar said that the government was wrong to try to determine who was the most qualified to receive this funding solely based on minority status. Thapar pointed out that the provision provided funding to restaurant owners of Pakistani or Indian ancestry, but not to those from Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan.

Thapar wrote that this “scattershot approach” violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Original Lawsuit

The case originated when Antonio Vitolo filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration and its discriminatory program because he did not qualify for the provisions. The Tennessee man pointed out that while his Hispanic wife owns 50% of the family restaurant, it was not enough to give them special treatment.