In a scathing opinion written on Friday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused her fellow justices of doing President Donald Trump's bidding.
Sotomayor's stinging opinion followed a 5-4 vote down ideological lines in which the high court's conservative justices granted the Trump administration an emergency stay allowing it to continue enforcing its updated "public charge" rule.
Federal immigration law stipulates that immigrants should not receive permanent status if they could become a "public charge," which traditionally meant depending on cash assistance from the government. The Trump administration has updated the definition to include immigrants who might depend on non-cash assistance, such as food stamps.
Granting the stay amounts to "putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the party that won a stay," Sotomayor wrote of her conservative colleagues.
She also wrote:
Today's decision follows a now-familiar pattern. The Government seeks emergency relief from this Court, asking it to grant a stay where two lower courts have not. The Government insists—even though review in a court of appeals is imminent—that it will suffer irreparable harm if this Court does not grant a stay. And the Court yields.
Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited Court resources in each. And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.
The actions of court's conservative justices demonstrate preferential treatment for the Trump administration, Sotomayor went on to write.
"Perhaps most troublingly, the Court's recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others," she said. "I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decision making process that this Court must strive to protect."
Friday's decision will impact millions of immigrants.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Trump administration has requested emergency stays from the Supreme Court an unprecedented 24 times, 11 of which have been granted. By comparison, the Bush and Obama administrations filed a combined eight stay requests.