NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government told a federal judge that states have no legal stake in its recent easing of rules designed to make school breakfasts and lunches healthier, and their lawsuit to undo the changes should be thrown out.
In a Monday night court filing, the government said New York, five other states and Washington could not sue based on speculation that changes to the federally funded National School Lunch Program could cause health problems for children and require more spending on treatment.
The government also said the states lacked power to sue under a doctrine known as “parens patriae,” Latin for “parent of the nation,” because it allegedly would not protect children from harm.
“This rule recognizes that a state has no legal interest in protecting its citizens from the federal government, and that only the United States, not the states, may represent its citizens and ensure their protection under federal law in federal matters,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan said in a filing in federal court in Manhattan.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the state coalition, did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.