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Tue Feb 23, 2021, 07:12 AM

SCOTUS NEWS Justices add new cases, turn down Pennsylvania election disputes


Justices add new cases, turn down Pennsylvania election disputes

By Amy Howe on Feb 22, 2021 at 1:34 pm

The justices on Monday issued their first regularly scheduled order list since late January. Perhaps the most noteworthy part of the orders was the justices’ denial of former President Donald Trump’s plea to block a subpoena for his financial records, but the order list was significant in other respects as well: The justices added three more hours of argument to their docket for the fall, and they declined to take up lingering disputes arising out of the 2020 election.

New cases granted

Monday’s order list came at the start of an argument session that lost two of its highest-profile cases, involving funding for the former president’s border wall and the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy for immigrants seeking asylum in the United States, due to changes in policy announced by President Joe Biden. Two of the three issues that the court agreed on Monday to review could meet similar fates before they are argued or decided next term.

The justices granted a trio of cases – American Medical Association v. Cochran, Cochran v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore and Oregon v. Cochran – challenging regulations issued by the Trump administration under Title X of the Public Health Services Act, a federal grant program to support family planning and reproductive health services for poor women. One provision of Title X, Section 1008, prohibits Title X funds from being “used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new regulations under Title X that bar clinics that receive federal funding through the program from providing referrals for abortion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the rule against two challenges, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit struck it down. The Biden administration has ordered a review of the 2019 rules, but according to Politico it has not yet indicated what changes it will make or when.

The justices also granted the federal government’s request to weigh in on the “public charge” rule, which governs the admission of immigrants into the United States. Federal immigration law prohibits noncitizens from receiving a green card if the government believes that they are likely to become reliant on government assistance – that is, a “public charge.” In 2019, the Trump administration defined “public charge” more broadly than in the past, to refer to noncitizens who receive various government benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance, for more than 12 months over a three-year period. After two different federal courts of appeals ruled for the challengers, the federal government came to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to take up the case. The justices agreed to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, perhaps because then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett had participated in a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which would have required her to recuse herself. The Biden administration ordered a review of the public charge rule in early February.


Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Justices add new cases, turn down Pennsylvania election disputes, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 22, 2021, 1:34 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/02/justices-add-new-cases-turn-down-pennsylvania-election-disputes/

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