The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has blocked the Trump administration’s plan to sell off $21.5bn of the US government’s assets, rejecting arguments that the deal would have a disproportionate effect on African Americans.
The court, which hears civil rights cases, had previously agreed to hear the case in April, but it has yet to rule on the appeal.
The Trump administration argues that the sale will give the government a chance to restructure and refocus its operations and is not in the best interest of African Americans, who are disproportionately represented among the population.
The administration argued in its brief that the proposed sale would help the federal government save money and increase efficiency by reducing the number of agencies and departments it has to deal with.
“While the Government will not be able to sell assets at below-market prices for a period of years, the Government may consider reducing its debt burden by selling assets to investors or by reducing spending, or in other ways, to increase efficiencies and decrease costs,” the administration argued.
The 9th circuit panel of appeals is expected to rule by next month.
The judge overseeing the case, Theodore Olson, said the decision was not intended to limit the sale to only African Americans but to the entire population.
“The Government cannot claim that the Government cannot sell certain assets to those who would be able, and do so, to benefit from the savings,” Olson said.
He said the administration’s argument that the transaction would not have a “toxic effect” on the population was not true.
“For example, if the Government were to buy the assets and sell them to a private company that would benefit from having them in the United States, the effect of the sale would be the same as if the assets were sold to an African American or Asian-American company,” he said.
“Moreover, the Court cannot construe the transaction as creating a ‘toxic’ effect on the community as opposed to the Government having a choice in that regard.”