Coalition of 18 States Urges Supreme Court to Extend Federal Benefits to Puerto Rico

© AP Photo / Carlos GiustiA Puerto Rican flag flies on an empty beach at Ocean Park, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, May 21, 2020. Puerto Rico is cautiously reopening beaches, restaurants, churches, malls, and hair salons under strict conditions as the U.S. territory emerges from a two-month lockdown despite dozens of new coronavirus cases reported daily.
A Puerto Rican flag flies on an empty beach at Ocean Park, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, May 21, 2020. Puerto Rico is cautiously reopening beaches, restaurants, churches, malls, and hair salons under strict conditions as the U.S. territory emerges from a two-month lockdown despite dozens of new coronavirus cases reported daily.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.09.2021
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – A coalition of attorneys general from 18 US states filed a brief urged the Supreme Court to modify a law that excluded residents of Puerto Rico from receiving federal aid for disabled adults and children, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said on Wednesday.
The coalition argues that Congress must have more than a good reason to discriminate, and that a similar standard should apply to treatment of the territories that applies to the 50 US states, the release said.
"In a brief filed in United States v. Vaello-Madero, a case concerning whether it is constitutional to deny Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to residents of Puerto Rico, the attorneys general urge the Supreme Court to carefully scrutinize Congress’s reasoning for discriminating against the territories," James said in a press release.
The brief also highlights the racist roots of discrimination against residents of US territories and points out that by excluding territories from certain nationwide aid programs like SSI, Congress withholds assistance from areas in which it is arguably most needed, the release added.
The SSI program provides monthly payments to adults and children with blindness or other disabilities who have income and resources below set financial limits. Congress excluded Puerto Rico from the program.
The case stems from a lawsuit by the Social Security Administration attempting to recover $28,000 paid to former resident of New York State who moved to Puerto Rico. Lower courts have ruled that the defendant can keep the money.
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