Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a blustering dissent in an ideologically split 5-4 Supreme Court ruling released Friday night in which she accused the five conservative justices who voted in the majority of repeatedly favoring the Trump administration.
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The case involved an appeal by the Department of Homeland Security for an injunction in a ruling against the imposition by the administration of a “public charge rule” regarding immigrants in an Illinois case that the Court has already allowed for the other 49 states. (DHS fact sheet on public charge rule.)
Sotomayor’s dissent is in the context of the growing pushback in recent years by President Trump and his administration that has found support from the Court’s conservative majority against the imposition of nationwide injunctions by individual District Court judges against Trump administration actions. The increased imposition of nationwide injunctions has fueled a belief the lower courts are acting politically as part of the anti-Trump resistance.
Sotomayor wrote in her conclusion:
Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others. This Court often permits executions—where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life—to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures “to raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner.” Murphy v. Collier, 587 U. S. ___, ___ (2019) (second statement of KAVANAUGH, J.) (slip op., at 4); see also id., at ___ (ALITO, J., joined by THOMAS and GORSUCH, JJ., dissenting from grant of stay) (slip op., at 6) (“When courts do not have adequate time to consider a claim, the decisionmaking process may be compromised”); cf. Dunn v. Ray, 586 U. S. ___ (2019) (overturning the grant of a stay of execution). Yet the Court’s concerns over quick decisions wither when prodded by the Government in far less compelling circumstances—where the Government itself chose to wait to seek relief, and where its claimed harm is continuation of a 20-year status quo in one State. I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect.
I respectfully dissent.
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The complete seven page dissent can be read at here at the Supreme Court.
Slate provided the Resistance translation of Sotomayor’s dissent:
Put simply: When some of the most despised and powerless among us ask the Supreme Court to spare their lives, the conservative justices turn a cold shoulder. When the Trump administration demands permission to implement some cruel, nativist, and potentially unlawful immigration restrictions, the conservatives bend over backward to give it everything it wants. There is nothing “fair and balanced” about the court’s double standard that favors the government over everyone else. And, as Sotomayor implies, this flagrant bias creates the disturbing impression that the Trump administration has a majority of the court in its pocket.
Text of the DHS final rule on public charge that was the subject of the Supreme Court case:
On August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule that codifies regulations governing the application of the public charge inadmissibility ground under INA section 212(a)(4). On Oct. 2, DHS issued a corresponding correction. On Oct. 10, 2018, DHS issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which was published in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period. DHS received and considered over 266,000 public comments before issuing this final rule. The final rule provides summaries and responses to all significant public comments.
The final rule enables the federal government to better carry out provisions of U.S. immigration law related to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The final rule clarifies the factors considered when determining whether someone is likely at any time in the future to become a public charge, is inadmissible under section 212(a)(4) of the INA, and therefore, ineligible for admission or adjustment of status.
The rule applies to applicants for admission, aliens seeking to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent residents from within the United States, and aliens within the United States who hold a nonimmigrant visa and seek to extend their stay in the same nonimmigrant classification or to change their status to a different nonimmigrant classification.
The final rule does not create any penalty or disincentive for past, current, or future receipt of public benefits by U.S. citizens or aliens whom Congress has exempted from the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The final rule does not apply to U.S. citizens, even if the U.S. citizen is related to a noncitizen who is subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The rule also does not apply to aliens whom Congress exempted from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, such as refugees, asylees, Afghans and Iraqis with special immigrant visas, and certain nonimmigrant trafficking and crime victims, individuals applying under the Violence Against Women Act, special immigrant juveniles, or to those who DHS has granted a waiver of public charge inadmissibility.
In addition, this rule also clarifies that DHS will not consider the receipt of designated public benefits received by an alien who, at the time of receipt, or at the time of filing the application for admission, adjustment of status, extension of stay, or change of status, is enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, or is serving in active duty or in any of the Ready Reserve components of the U.S. armed forces, and will not consider the receipt of public benefits by the spouse and children of such service members. The rule further provides that DHS will not consider public benefits received by children, including adopted children, who will acquire U.S. citizenship under INA section 320, 8 U.S.C. 1431.
Similarly, DHS will not consider the Medicaid benefits received: (1) for the treatment of an “emergency medical condition,” (2) as services or benefits provided in connection with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (3) as school-based services or benefits provided to individuals who are at or below the oldest age eligible for secondary education as determined under State or local law, (4) by aliens under the age of 21, and (5) by pregnant women and by women within the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy.
DHS will only consider public benefits received directly by the applicant for the applicant’s own benefit, or where the applicant is a listed beneficiary of the public benefit. DHS will not consider public benefits received on behalf of another as a legal guardian or pursuant to a power of attorney for such a person. DHS will also not attribute receipt of a public benefit by one or more members of the applicant’s household to the applicant unless the applicant is also a listed beneficiary of the public benefit.