Written by: Khalif Thompson
The Supreme Court concluded on Thursday that Congress may continue to exclude Puerto Ricans from a federal program that assists low-income aged, handicapped, and blind persons.
President Biden's administration, like the Trump administration before it, upheld Congress's ability to exclude Puerto Ricans from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program without breaking the promise of equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution.
However, Biden has also urged for the legislation to be modified.
The exclusion implies that around 300,000 persons on the island who would be eligible for the benefit if they lived elsewhere will not be able to receive it.
“The limited question before this Court is whether, under the Constitution, Congress must extend Supplemental Security Income to residents of Puerto Rico to the same extent as to residents of the States.” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote for the majority. “The answer is no.”
U.S. residents living in any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands are eligible for SSI benefits. Along with Puerto Ricans, residents of the US Virgin Islands and Guam are barred.
Sotomayor stated that a program aimed at assisting the poorest residents should not be based on geography.