In Blistering Dissent Sotomayor Slams White House For Seeking Emergency Powers On Controversial Issues

February 24, 2020 by Dan McCue
In this Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 photo, Singer Gloria Estefan moderates a presentation with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in Miami. Sotomayor spoke to a crowd about her new book "Just Ask". The new illustrated book teaches children and parents how to be better citizens by explaining that acts of civic participation turn people into heroes. (AP Photo/Adriana Gomez Licon)

In a blistering dissent issued late Friday night, Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor chastised the Trump administration for repeatedly asking the  high court to allow controversial policies to go into effect on an emergency basis.

At the same time, and in a rare instance for the generally collegiate court, Sotomayor scolded her conservative colleagues on the bench, charging they’ve been all too eager to side with the White House on such requests.

The justice’s dissent came after the Supreme Court split 5-4 to allow an immigrant “wealth” test to go into effect. The test is intended to weed out green card applicants who are likely to need public assistance like food stamps, Medicaid or a housing allowance in the future.

The ruling Friday was to allow the policy to go into effect in Illinois, where a stay of the policy had been in place. The court had already lifted a separate nationwide stay of the policy on Jan. 27.

In her dissent Sotomayor, who joined Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan in the minority, argued that cases have repeatedly been rushed to the Supreme Court without being “ventilated fully in the lower courts.”

“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases,” Sotomayor said. “It is hard to say what is more troubling,” she said, pointing to the case at hand, “that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.”

“And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow,” she added.

Sotomayor went on to say that by seeking to have policies go into effect on an emergency basis, the administration was effectively “putting a thumb on the scale in favor” of the party that won a stay.

“Most troublingly,” she said, “the Court’s recent behavior” has benefited “one litigant over all others.”

She concluded by saying, “I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decision-making process that this court must strive to protect.”

Now the public charge rule, scheduled for implementation Monday — will take effect nationwide while the legal process plays out.

“This final rule will protect hard working 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(e) of United States taxpayers,” the White House said in a statement Saturday.

Sotomayor comments lit up the Twittersphere over the weekend and renewed calls from Democrats to “flip the Senate” in November, and thus have more control over the confirmation of Supreme Court justices.

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