Court Stops Trump Admin’s Attempt to Restrict Access to Food Assistance

Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction in AG James’ Lawsuit Against Harmful Changes to SNAP

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that a federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit led by New York and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine against the Trump Administration’s attempts to deny food assistance to hundreds of thousands of Americans by changing the rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rule was set to take effect on April 1, 2020. Attorney General James released the following statement:

“At a time of national crisis, this decision is a win for common sense and basic human decency,” said Attorney General James. “This rule is cruel to its core and runs counter to who we are and what we represent as a nation. We lend a helping hand to give those struggling to pull themselves out of poverty a shot at succeeding in that endeavor. This rule would accomplish just the opposite, making those who already worry about ending their days hungry even more vulnerable, and as we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, the effects of this rule would be more destructive than ever. We are grateful that this rule will not be implemented as we fight to permanently prevent it from ever going into effect.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in January, challenged the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) rule that would limit states’ ability to extend benefits from SNAP beyond a three-month period for certain adults. The lawsuit argued that the rule directly undermined Congress’ intent for SNAP, that the USDA violated the federal rulemaking process, and that the rule would impose significant regulatory burdens on the states and harm states’ economies and residents. If it had taken effect on April 1, 2020, this rule would have denied access to food assistance for more than 50,000 people in New York City, and put tens of thousands more throughout New York State at risk of going hungry. 

In her decision, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell noted that as we experience a global pandemic that puts the health and safety of millions at risk, “guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential.”