Document Type

Article

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."

Date of Authorship for this Version

1-1-2011

Keywords

Health insurance, Health care reform, Immigrants, Constitutions - Massachusetts, legal immigrants, Health Law

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