SCOTUS Blocks Some Federal Benefits from Puerto Rico Residents

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Congress can exclude residents of Puerto Rico from some federal disability benefits available to those who live in the 50 states, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The Biden administration defended the exclusion, noting that Puerto Rico residents do not pay federal taxes. However, Biden called on Congress to extend the benefits.

The 8-1 opinion was written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.

The case concerned Supplemental Security Income which is available to those living in the 50 states who are older than 65, blind, or disabled. But residents of Puerto Rico and other US territories are excluded from receiving the funds.

They get a lot of our benefits and don’t pay federal taxes.

“In devising tax and benefits programs, it is reasonable for Congress to take account of the general balance of benefits to and burdens on the residents of Puerto Rico,” Kavanaugh wrote. “In doing so, Congress need not conduct a dollar-to-dollar comparison of how its tax and benefits programs apply in the States as compared to the Territories, either at the individual or collective level.”

Far-left Sotomayor, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico, penned the sole dissenting opinion. “Equal treatment of citizens should not be left to the vagaries of the political process,” she said.

“Because residents of Puerto Rico do not have voting representation in Congress, they cannot rely on their elected representatives to remedy the punishing disparities suffered by citizen residents of Puerto Rico under Congress’ unequal treatment,” Sotomayor wrote.

The case will allow the withholding of certain benefits for those living in the territories. Supplemental Security Income, but for all federal benefit programs, like Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlements could be withheld. They won’t be.

The Biden administration defended the exclusion, noting that Puerto Rico residents do not pay federal taxes. However, Biden called on Congress to extend the benefits.

We have so much money to give away to people who don’t pay taxes.

We will soon be hearing once again that Peurto Rico must become a state. Yet a near-majority of Puerto Rico residents would rather be independent. If they did go independent, they’d lose benefits.


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