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    21, April 2022
    LatinoJustice Decries “Outrageous” U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Case Denying Federal Benefits to Residents of Puerto Rico

LatinoJustice Decries “Outrageous” U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Case Denying Federal Benefits to Residents of Puerto Rico

April 21, 2022

Carolina González | Senior Director of Strategic Communication| [email protected] |  212-739-7513
Sarai Bejarano | Manager of Traditional & Digital Media | [email protected] | 212-739-7581   

Devastating Decision in U.S. v. Vaello-Madero for Disabled, Poor & Elderly U.S. Citizens living in Puerto Rico

New York, NY – On a vote of 8-1 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of U.S. v. Vaello Madero, a case challenging the exclusion of residents of Puerto Rico from the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, the highest court declined to extend federal benefits to Puerto Rico. Judge Sonia Sotomayor was the only dissenting vote.

The following statement can be attributed to Lourdes M. Rosado, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. 

“LatinoJustice PRLDEF is appalled by the Supreme Court’s decision to deny Jose Luis Vaello-Madero, and by extension all residents of Puerto Rico, entitlement to SSI. This decision is outrageous on many fronts. In opposition to the findings of the District Court and Court of Appeals in this case, the Supreme Court decision wrongly reinforces the notion that those in Puerto Rico are less than full citizens of the United States, and deserve less than full access to the rights and benefits of citizenship. The decision also prolongs the racist exclusion of Puerto Ricans from vital federal benefits afforded to citizens living in the 50 states, undergirded by precedents that compound wrongs, and historical practices that should have been rejected long ago. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated in her dissent, there is ‘no rational basis’ to treat U.S. citizens anywhere so differently, especially when the impacts of this differential treatment so starkly abdicate basic responsibilities to the neediest citizens. We agree with Justice Neil Gorsuch that the Insular Cases ‘rest on a rotten foundation’ and must be discarded as a rationale for discriminatory decisions that exclude Puerto Ricans and residents of other U.S. territories from the Constitutional rights and protections to which they are entitled.”

Additional Materials:
- Spanish Press Statement


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LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit