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black and white photo of Supreme Court of U.S. with person standing on steps (Photo: Shutterstock)

The last time public pension plans were before the U.S. Supreme Court was 1937 in the matter of Dodge v. Board of Education, 302 U.S. 74, but a recent decision by the court in an ERISA case, Thole v. U.S. Bank, 140 S. Ct. 1615 (2020), may have a significant effect on public pension plans for years to come. If extended to apply to public pensions, the double-edged ruling has the potential to further insulate public defined benefit plans from liability for benefit recipients’ claims, while undermining their legal protections against political interference.

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