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Attorney General To Make Oral Arguments Before United States Supreme Court Today

WASHINGTON — V.I. Attorney General Denise George reminds the public that Oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in U.S. v. Vaello Madero begins at 11 am this morning.

The V.I. Department of Justice (VIDOJ) on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands,, filed an amicus brief in support of Madero, which requests the Supreme Court to strike down discrimination by the USA against residents of the Virgin Islands and other U.S. territories in Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. U.S. Citizens residing in the Virgin Islands are prohibited from obtaining SSI benefits available to U.S. citizens on the mainland.

This case and its resulting decision will have a significant impact the residents of the Virgin Islands.

As background, Vaello-Madero, a citizen of the United States and born in Puerto Rico, had been living in New York state and receiving SSI benefits. When he later moved back to Puerto Rico, he was later denied these benefits solely because he changed his residence from New York to Puerto Rico—where, as in the V.I., citizens are not entitled to these benefits. SSI is the largest federal cash assistance program in the United States that provides monthly income assistance to people who (1) are disabled, blind, or elderly, and (2) have minimal or no income and few assets.

SSI is an essential lifeline for the nation’s most vulnerable populations. These benefits are not provided to citizens living in the Virgin Islands. “This, I believe, as a Virgin Islander, citizen of the United States, and Attorney General for this territory, is a wrong committed against our most vulnerable residents and must be righted. This is why we filed the Amicus brief,” said AG George.

You can tune in to the live broadcast at https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/live.aspx

And here’s SCOTUS Blog’s preview: https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/11/in-equal-protectionchallenge-court-will-review-puerto-ricos-exclusion-from-federal-safety-net-program/

Reportedly, audio and a transcript of the argument will also be available later in the day.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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