The Washington Post
Abortion and immigration cases
Court agrees to take up challenges to Trump-era regulations.
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up challenges to controversial Trump administration regulations on immigrants and on abortion counseling, although the Biden administration might rescind both before the cases can be heard.
One case involves a “gag rule” that prohibits federally funded health clinics from referring women to abortion providers. The other involves regulations that could keep immigrants from getting their green cards if they use food stamps or other public benefits.
The cases would not be heard until the court’s new term beginning in October. President Biden already has expressed opposition to both of the policies.
At issue in the immigration cases are rules that establish new criteria for what makes one be deemed dependent on the government for public assistance — a “public charge” — and therefore disqualified for green cards and a path to U.S. citizenship.
Under the 2019 Department of Homeland Security policy, immigrants who are in the United States legally are considered public charges and ineligible if they use any benefits or are declared likely to someday rely on such assistance.
Immigrant support groups call it a “wealth test” and say it intimidates immigrants and their children from using public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance to which they may be legally entitled.
Federal courts have split on the rules, but the Supreme Court has allowed them to mostly go into effect while the legal challenges continue.
The groups who brought the challenges said Monday that Biden should revise the rules rather than wait for a decision from the high court.
“The Biden administration must rescind the rule immediately and should withdraw all pending government appeals defending the rule, including its appeals to the Supreme Court,” the Legal Aid Society, the Center for Constitutional Rights and a group called Make the Road New York said in a joint statement.
“Every day that passes causes more harm to immigrant communities and impedes efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, particularly among low-income communities of color.”
In the abortion case, the new administration already is considering the restrictions President Donald Trump’s team put in place regarding Title X, a decades-old law regarding family-planning services. Its regulations continually change, depending on the political party of the administration in charge.
Groups such as Planned Parenthood have said that the Trump administration’s requirements could keep them from participating, and restrict physicians from even referring a woman to an abortion provider if she is seeking the procedure.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit approved the restrictions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said they went too far, and a suit brought by Baltimore said they could not be enforced in Maryland.
Groups challenging the rules — the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Medical Association, Essential Access Health, the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America — welcomed the Supreme Court’s review.
The rule “inappropriately interferes with the patient-physician relationship and conflicts with the ethical obligations of physicians and other health-care providers — ultimately jeopardizing patient access to safe care,” they said.
Antiabortion activists said they remained hopeful that the court will get the chance to approve what they called the “Protect Life Rule.”
“We are confident the Supreme Court will rule that the Trump administration and future pro-life administrations have the right to disentangle Title X taxpayer funding from the abortion industry,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.