U.S. District Judge William G. Young, a person named by Reagan, wrote in a A 70-page ruling that denying Puerto Ricans access to federal benefits is a discriminatory policy.
In the ruling, Young noted that residents of other U.S. territories, such as the Northern Mariana Islands, are eligible for federal benefits.
The Northern Mariana Islands have a population of 56,882, compared to 3.2 million people who live in Puerto Rico, which also has a poverty rate of 43%.
“There is no question that the constitutional violations here are systemic,” Young wrote.
The federal government argued that it would be too costly to provide the same benefits to the island.
Legal experts told the AP that the government would likely appeal the ruling given the amount of money at stake if it were required to provide Puerto Ricans with equal government benefits.
Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (right), the island’s representative in Congress, applauded the court’s decision, calling the withholding of benefits “disgusting.”
“The result of this case is a natural extension of what was resolved in the case of Vaello Madero: the exclusion of residents of [Puerto Rico] of federal charitable programs available to other US citizens is contrary to basic tenets of our Constitution, ”she wrote.
The outcome of this case is a natural extension of what was resolved in the Vaello Madero case: the exclusion of residents from federal charitable programs offered to other US citizens is disgusting to the basic tenets of our Constitution. pic.twitter.com/LhEJoZtKeS
– Jenniffer González (@ Jenniffer2012) August 3, 2020