January, per the NY Times, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to move forward with plans to deny green cards to immigrants who are thought to be likely to make even occasional and minor use of public benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.
The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s conservative justices in the majority.
TheHill reports Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a dissenting opinion Friday accusing her conservative colleagues of having a bias toward the Trump administration after the court voted to 5–4 to uphold the administration’s public charge rule, which critics call a “wealth test” for legal immigrants.
“Today’s decision follows a now-familiar pattern,” Sotomayor began. “The Government seeks emergency relief from this Court, asking it to grant a stay where two lower courts have not. The Government insists—even though review in a court of appeals is imminent—that it will suffer irreparable harm if this Court does not grant a stay. And the Court yields.”
The policy in question, the Immigration and Nationality Act, makes immigrants who are “likely at any time to become a public charge” ineligible for green cards. The policy virtually bars legal immigrants from using public assistance, including Medicaid, housing vouchers and food stamps. The five conservative justices ruled in favor of the stay, while the liberal justices — including Sotomayor — opposed it.
In the case, Wolf v. Cook County, a U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the policy in Illinois. The Supreme Court had previously voted 5-4 in January to lift a nationwide injunction imposed by a federal judge in New York while the case played out in appeals court. Last week, Solicitor General Noel Francisco sent a request asking the court to do the same for the Illinois injunction.
Sotomayor said the court has not looked at this case, as well as other appeals of the administration’s policies, objectively and is quick to rule in favor of President Trump.
“This Court is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process,” Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, wrote. “That is because the Court—in this case, the New York cases, and many others—has been all too quick to grant the Government’s ‘reflexiv[e]’ requests. But make no mistake: Such a shift in the Court’s own behavior comes at a cost.”
“I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect,” Sotomayor concluded.