26 States Led By Texas Challenge Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration
The U.S. Supreme Court takes on a case today challenging the limits of presidential power as the justices decide whether President Barack Obama overstepped his authority with unilateral action to prevent millions of people in the country illegally from being deported.
Watch Excellent Josh Blackman Video Explaining Case Specific Legal Proceedings from The Federalist Society
How Much Power Does The President Really Have?
The eight remaining Supreme Court justices plan to hold 90 minutes of oral arguments dealing with Obama’s move to spare millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.
A coalition of 26 states calls it an executive power grab. “President Obama’s executive action is an affront to our system of republican self-government,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
White House claims that the president’s authority is clear and the policies humane and reasonable. Obama has promoted his program as a plan to “prioritize deporting felons not families.”
It’s a case that will be closely watched in an election year where Republican front-runner Donald Trump has made immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his campaign. The outcome also could have considerable bearing on Obama’s legacy, potentially determining whether his lame-duck bid to bypass Congress is upheld or ruled an overreach.
At issue today is whether as many as 5 million illegal immigrants can be spared deportation, including those who entered the U.S. as children, and the parents of citizens or legal residents. The programs, known as Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) bypassed the Republican-led Congress when they were created.
Opponents of the program, including 26 states and GOP members of Congress, claim the plan exceeds constitutional power.
A federal appeals court earlier struck down DAPA, which has yet to go fully into effect. The Justice Department then asked the high court for a final review in what could be a critical test of Obama’s executive powers during his final year in office.
The decision to review the case was welcome on both sides of the aisle.
“The Constitution vests legislative authority in Congress, not the president,” said Hatch, urging the justices to rule against the administration.
But the White House is confident the policies will be upheld as spokeswoman Brandi Hoofing said:
“Like millions of families across this country, immigrants who want to be held accountable, to work on the books, to pay taxes, and to contribute to our society openly and honestly, we are pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to review the immigration case.”
The issue of illegal immigration has taken a center-stage role in the Republican primary battle as Trump calls for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and candidates battle over who has taken the toughest stance on the issue.
The immigrants who would benefit from the Obama administration’s plan are mainly parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. said in a court filing that allowing the past rulings to stand would force millions “to continue to work off the books.”
Besides immigration, Obama has used his presumed authority to act on other volatile issues including Obamacare, abortion rights, gun control, affirmative action and global warming.
As a result of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the court is evenly divided with four liberal justices and four conservatives. That raises the possibility of a 4-4 bench split along conservative-liberal lines that would leave in place a 2015 lower-court ruling that threw out the president’s executive action that bypassed the Republican-led Congress.
A 4-4 ruling would effectively scuttle the issue until after Obama leaves office in nine months, and mean at least a temporary setback to his domestic policy legacy even if the justices choose to reargue the case after Scalia has been replacement.
On the legal side, the GOP-controlled House filed an amicus brief supporting the states, telling the high court, “the Executive does not have the power to authorize, let alone facilitate, the prospective violation of immigration laws on a massive class-wide scale.”
“There are millions of families of U.S.-born citizens that live under the fear of separation and deportation,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, an Hispanic advocacy nonprofit. “Our community is watching and will hold accountable those who have stood on the way of our families through the ballots in November.”
MFV and other immigrant rights advocates plan to march at the Supreme Court during today’s arguments. Supporters of the administration vow this issue will resonate in an election year.
VIDEO: Professor Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law/Houston explains the legal challenges to President Obama’s Immigration plan.
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sources: The Federalist Society, Youtube, Reuters