Pa. justices decline to restore cash payments to poor, those with disabilities


Pennsylvania's high court on Wednesday turned down an effort to resume cash welfare assistance to the poor and those with disabilities while litigation continues over a law that ended the payments this summer.

The Supreme Court’s six-justice majority said Commonwealth Court had grounds to determine that the groups challenging the law did not prove they were likely to prevail in the ongoing lawsuit.

At issue is a Depression-era program, known as general assistance, that typically provided about 11,000 recipients with some $200 a month.

The payments stopped in August after Republican lawmakers pushed through a bill that ended the $24 million annual program while also reauthorizing payments to Philadelphia hospitals.

Three Democrats on the seven-member court said they consider questions about whether passage of the bill met a constitutional standard that laws have to address single subjects to be a close call.

A fourth Democrat, Justice David Wecht, said in a lengthy dissent that the plaintiffs demonstrated they would suffer “cascading and multiplying harms.” Wecht also said there may not be a sufficient connection between ending the payments and authorizing the hospital subsidies for the new state law to pass muster.


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