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Supreme Court Kills Conservative Challenge to “Public Charge” Changes

— June 15, 2022

The Supreme Court did not address whether the Biden administration erred in its revocation of a Trump-era immigration rule but nonetheless dismissed an aspiring conservative lawsuit.

The United States Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Arizona and a dozen other conservative-led states, all of which had sought to join a federal lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s revocation of the so-called “public charge” immigration rule.

According to USA Today, the court heard oral arguments on Friday, after which the justices issued a one-sentence, unsigned decision of dismissal.

While the Supreme Court did not address the merits of former President Donald Trump’s “public charge rule,” the ruling nonetheless represents an important policy victory for the Biden administration.

As has reported before, the public charge rule essentially denied immigrants the opportunity to secure permanent residency if government officials determined there was a chance they could obtain federal benefits.

Under the 2019 rule, officials could make determinations based on applicants’ past participation in benefits programs, as well as their health, education level, and other factors.

Critics of the Trump-era policy said that it could prevent immigrants in genuine need of assistance from seeking help, simply out of fear that their futures in the United States could be jeopardized.

The Biden administration decided last year that it would no longer defend against lawsuits seeking to block the rule’s implementation.

Supreme Court building. Image via Joe Ravi/Wikimedia Commons. (CCA-BY-3.0).

USA Today notes that the Supreme Court did not address the merits of the public charge rule, but instead considered whether the administration has circumvented the procedures necessary to revoke it.

In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that the lawsuit was needlessly complex and had raised far more questions than its resolution could answer.

“It has become clear that this mare’s nest could stand in the way of our reaching the question presented on which we granted certiorari, or at the very least, complicate our resolution of that question,” Roberts said.

“That resolution should not be taken as reflective of a view of any of the foregoing issues, or on the appropriate resolution of other litigation, pending or future, related to the 2019 Public Charge Rule, its repeal, or its replacement by a new rule,” Roberts wrote.

Roberts’ concurring opinion was supported by Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch.

The decision left in place a lower court ruling preventing Arizona and the attorneys general of other states from intervening in or supporting the lawsuit against the revocation of the public charge rule.

Brittni Thompson, a spokesperson for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, said that Brnovich and his colleagues are evaluating their next steps.

“We appreciate the four justices who recognized that today’s dismissal should not affect other litigation related to the 2019 public charge rule, its repeal, or replacement by a new rule,” Thompson said in a statement.


Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit over Trump’s ‘public charge’ immigration rule

Supreme Court ends challenge over ‘public charge’ rule

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