Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor slams conservative colleagues over ‘public charge’ ruling

In a 5–4 decision along ideological lines, the Supreme Court lifted on Friday an injunction out of Illinois that prevented the implementation of the Trump administration’s so-called “public charge” rule. Now, one judge on the high court is splitting with her colleagues and speaking out about the decision.

Left-leaning Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor slammed her conservative colleagues over the ruling in a dissenting opinion Friday, suggesting that they too often side with the Trump administration on such matters, The Hill reported.

SCOTUS sides with Trump

The “public charge” rule, as it has come to be known, limits potential immigrants’ ability to obtain citizenship or permanent residency status if they are likely to require taxpayer-funded public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid.

The Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in January to lift a nationwide injunction on the policy that had been imposed by a New York district judge. This time, the Trump administration’s lawyers were seeking a similar stay on a more limited injunction imposed by an Illinois district judge — and they got it.

Sotomayor makes her case

Sotomayor, for her part, blasted the ruling in a dissenting opinion Friday. “Today’s decision follows a now-familiar pattern,” the justice wrote. “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 jurist went on to accuse government lawyers of offering contradicting arguments against the injunctions before warning that “the Court should not forget the burden the Government must carry to obtain a stay.”

“It is not enough for a party to point to an important legal issue, or even one that is likely to obtain the assent of five Justices on the merits (which is far from certain here),” Sotomayor wrote. “Instead, to justify upending the normal rules of appellate procedure, a party must also show a likelihood of irreparable harm.

“The Government has not made that showing here,” she added. But Sotomayor also placed blame on the high court itself for what she called a “breakdown in the appellate process.”

“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,” she asserted. “But make no mistake: Such a shift in the Court’s own behavior comes at a cost.”

Of course, one wonders whether Sotomayor would be making the same argument if the justices had sided with a liberal president.

A win for America

The court’s Friday ruling will allow Trump’s “public charge” policy to take effect on Monday, much to the dismay of Sotomayor and other immigration advocates. But White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham maintains the new rule “will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the Federal deficit, and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess of United States taxpayers.”

“We are gratified by the Supreme Court ruling on Friday night lifting the final remaining injunction on the public charge regulation,” Grisham added in a statement Saturday.

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