Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Brief and Record Appendix for the Plaintiff on Reserve and Report from the Single Justice, Finch, et al. v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, et al., No. SJC-10748 (filed September 2010)

59 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2012 Last revised: 27 Feb 2012

See all articles by Wendy E. Parmet

Wendy E. Parmet

Northeastern University - School of Law

Lauren Guth Barnes

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Lorianne Sainsbury-Wong

Health Law Advocates

Date Written: September 1, 2010

Abstract

In 2009 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted a law, St. 2009, c. 65, § 31(a), that excluded approximately 44,000 legal immigrants from Commonwealth Care, a key component of the state’s 2006 health reform act which provides health insurance subsidies for uninsured residents whose income are up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. In 2010 Health Law Advocates, a public interest law firm, filed a class action before a Single Justice of the State Supreme Judicial Court challenging the exclusion as violating the equal protection provisions of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The Single Justice referred four questions to the Full Court. The questions concerned whether legal aliens were a protected class under the state constitution, and whether the state’s exclusion of the plaintiff class should be subjected to strict scrutiny or rational basis review. The plaintiffs’ brief argues that legal aliens are a protected class and that strict scrutiny was required despite the fact that the excluded immigrants were denied federally funded public benefits under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). In May 2011 the Court agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling in Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Auth., 459 Mass. 655 (2011), that legal aliens are a suspect class under the Massachusetts Constitution and that the 2009 exclusion law was subject to strict scrutiny.

Suggested Citation

Parmet, Wendy E. and Barnes, Lauren Guth and Sainsbury-Wong, Lorianne, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Brief and Record Appendix for the Plaintiff on Reserve and Report from the Single Justice, Finch, et al. v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, et al., No. SJC-10748 (filed September 2010) (September 1, 2010). Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2007196 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2007196

Wendy E. Parmet (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

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Lauren Guth Barnes

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro ( email )

55 Cambridge Parkway, Ste 301
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Lorianne Sainsbury-Wong

Health Law Advocates ( email )

30 Winter Street, Suite 1004
Boston, MA 02108
United States

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