Okay, okay, that was not exactly the holding of Dorothy Ann Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance, but that may happen. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled, in a 3-2 decision, that a lower court must use strict scrutiny in determining whether or not the state can reduce state-sponsored health care benefits to immigrants. The lower courts had applied a rational basis standard to the exclusion, meaning that the state only had to demonstrate that it had some interest in excluding immigrants from subsidised programmes. The Supreme Judicial Court, however, ruled that the lower courts must apply a “strict scrutiny” standard, meaning that the legislation must be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest.
This ruling – this particular ruling – only covers legal immigrants, but the jump to covering illegal immigrants is very small. (I will also note that the MA courts have also ruled that the state constitution requires abortions to be provided for anyone who cannot afford one, as abortion is a constitutional right. No word yet on free guns for poor people.) Also note that courts, unlike the legislatures, are not charged with making a budget, or making a budget work; their opinions are not only divorced from, but contrary to, the realities of using limited funds for unlimited needs and wants.
Nothing against immigrants, but the reality is that they can return to their own countries for free or subsidised health care; US citizens cannot go to Canada, for example, and demand free health care. It is an issue of sovereignty, and of protecting one’s own citizens and allocating resources accordingly, but it remains to be seen whether or not Massachusetts thinks that sovereignty and balancing the budget are fundamental governmental interests.