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December 6, 2022
The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Arizona and a dozen other conservative states that wanted to join a federal lawsuit in order to challenge the way President Joe Biden ended a Trump-era policy intended to curb legal immigration.
After hearing oral arguments in the case in February, the court issued a one-sentence unsigned decision noting the case is dismissed. Though the high court didn’t address the substance of former President Donald Trump’s “public charge” rule.
The “public charge” rule, issued in 2019, denied green cards to immigrants if officials determined they might benefit from safety net programs, such as rental assistance or food stamps. The Biden administration decided last year it would no longer defend lawsuits that attempted to block the rule’s implementation.
The substantive policy wasn’t at issue in the case: The question for the high court was whether the Biden administration circumvented the usual requirements necessary to roll back another administration’s policy. But in a concurring opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said that question was wrapped up with too many other questions.
“That resolution should not be taken as reflective of a view on 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. Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined Roberts.
The decision left in place a lower court ruling that Arizona could not intervene.
Federal agencies are generally required by law to conduct thorough reviews and seek public comment to end a policy or set aside a regulation from a previous administration. In this case, the Biden administration chose not to appeal a court order blocking the rule. That had the effect of allowing Biden to kill the Trump-era immigration rule without going through the usual process.
In his concurring opinion, Roberts questioned whether the Biden administration’s handling of the matter comported “with the principles of administrative law.” But bound up in that question, he continued, “are a great many issues,” what he described as a “mare’s nest” that “could stand in the way of our reaching the question presented.”
Brittni Thomason, who is a spokesperson for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, said in a statement that the coalition of states is evaluating how to continue the fight.
“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,” Thomason said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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