In a case suc­cess­fully argued by North­eastern law pro­fessor Wendy Parmet, the Mass­a­chu­setts Supreme Judi­cial Court ruled last week that excluding some 40,000 legal immi­grants from a sub­si­dized health-​​care pro­gram likely vio­lates equal pro­tec­tion rights out­lined in the state’s constitution.

Parmet, Matthews dis­tin­guished pro­fessor of law, argued the case on behalf of the immi­grants, who were cut from Com­mon­wealth Care in 2009 after law­makers sought to reduce state spending.

Last week, she dis­cussed the case in The Boston Globe and on the WBUR radio pro­gram “All Things Considered.”

Parmet, a spe­cialist in public-​​health law, cham­pi­oned the impor­tance of ade­quate health-​​care cov­erage for all. “Health care is an extra­or­di­narily impor­tant human right,” said Parmet, who served as pres­i­dent of the board of direc­tors of Health Law Advo­cates, a public-​​interest law firm that brought the class action case to court. “If we don’t have access to health care when we need it, then much of the other things we hope and expect people can do with their lives will be unattainable.”

A polit­i­cally par­a­lyzed class, she said, should not suffer the con­se­quences of a state’s finan­cial insta­bility. “What the state can’t do is put the burden of fiscal prob­lems on the backs of a vul­ner­able class,” she said.

The court did not man­date law­makers to rein­state legal immi­grants in the health-​​care pro­gram, but said the state would have to pro­vide a com­pelling reason under “strict scrutiny” to con­tinue denying sub­si­dized cov­erage. Parmet called the state’s argu­ment “very tough to prove.”

The law­suit will move to a single Supreme Judi­cial Court jus­tice, who will decide the case.

Parmet is hopeful that all of her clients — many of whom suffer from chronic dis­eases, such as cancer and dia­betes — will be re-​​enrolled in the Com­mon­wealth Care pro­gram. After funding for the pro­gram was slashed two years ago, many immi­grants were moved to a cheaper state plan, which includes fewer health-​​care providers and requires par­tic­i­pants to pay higher fees for pre­scrip­tions and doctor’s visits.

It’s not a sat­is­fac­tory alter­na­tive,” said Parmet. “If it were a mar­velous pro­gram, then everyone in the state would be on it.”

Sev­eral North­eastern law school stu­dents and grad­u­ates helped Parmet research the case, with a lim­ited supply of resources. “All of them did amazing work,” she said. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”