Hall v. United States Department of Agriculture, No. 20-16232 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act), which provides for emergency assistance to households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying a motion for a preliminary injunction brought by a putative class of Californians, who normally receive the maximum monthly allotment of SNAP benefits, seeking to bar the USDA from denying California's request under section 2302(a)(1) of the Families First Act to issue emergency allotments to households already receiving maximum SNAP benefits. After determining that plaintiffs had Article III standing, the panel held that the USDA, which administers SNAP, correctly interpreted the statute by concluding that it allows households receiving less than the maximum monthly allotment of SNAP benefits to be brought up to the maximum but does not permit those already receiving the maximum to be given any additional benefits. When the panel examined the Families First Act as a whole, as well as other statutes addressing emergency SNAP benefits, three considerations lead it to conclude that the government's reading of section 2302(a)(1) is more consistent with the overall statutory scheme. Therefore, because plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a preliminary injunction.