Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Brief for the Plaintiffs on Reserve and Report from the Single Justice, Finch, et al. v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, et al., No. SJC-11025 (Filed August 22, 2011)

56 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2012 Last revised: 21 Apr 2012

See all articles by Wendy E. Parmet

Wendy E. Parmet

Northeastern University - School of Law

John H. Cushman

Stern Shapiro Weissberg & Garin, LLP

Lorianne Sainsbury-Wong

Health Law Advocates

Date Written: August 22, 2011

Abstract

In Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Auth., 459 Mass. 655 (2011), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a state law excluding a class of legal immigrants from Commonwealth Care, a key component of the state’s 2006 health reform act, discriminated against legal aliens and was subject to strict scrutiny under the Massachusetts Constitution. Following that ruling, the plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The state opposed the motion arguing that the exclusion was narrowly tailored to serve the compelling state interest of furthering national immigration policy. In this brief, the plaintiffs argued that the statute could not survive strict scrutiny because a) the statute was a fiscal measure designed to save money rather than further national immigration policy; b) national immigration policy is not a compelling state interest for purposes of state equal protection law; and c) even if national immigration policy is a compelling state interest the statute was not narrowly tailored to serve that purpose. In Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Auth., 461 Mass. 237 (2012), the Supreme Judicial Court found that the statute could not survive strict scrutiny. The Court held that a court applying strict scrutiny must consider a statute’s real rather than hypothetical purpose and that the real purpose for the challenged statute was to save the state money, a purpose which is not compelling. The Court further stated that “the strict scrutiny doctrine imposes rigorous procedural requirements on a State, to ensure that legislation is narrowly tailored to further a compelling interest” and that the state made “no attempt to comply with those requirements.”

Suggested Citation

Parmet, Wendy E. and Cushman, John H. and Sainsbury-Wong, Lorianne, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Brief for the Plaintiffs on Reserve and Report from the Single Justice, Finch, et al. v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, et al., No. SJC-11025 (Filed August 22, 2011) (August 22, 2011). Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 88-2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2007626

Wendy E. Parmet (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
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John H. Cushman

Stern Shapiro Weissberg & Garin, LLP ( email )

90 Canal St., Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114
United States

Lorianne Sainsbury-Wong

Health Law Advocates ( email )

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

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