Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could determine the fate of President Obama’s legacy on immigration.
And, so far, it’s not looking so good for the president.
Via Washington Examiner:
The eight Supreme Court justices appeared evenly split during Monday’s oral arguments in the case over President Obama’s 2014 policy to not deport an estimated four million immigrants illegally living in the U.S.
That is likely a bad sign for the administration because a 4-4 split in U.S. v. Texas would mean that lower court rulings halting the policy would stand.
There was little indication that any of the conservatives – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas — or the liberals – Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor – were going to break off and grant either side a majority.
If the Supreme Court fails to grant a majority to either side and the lower court rulings stand, as early indications suggest, it will effectively block one of President Obama’s pet execution actions central to his legacy. Bad news for the president.
There were several other key excerpts from the justices today that should give those of us who still believe in the Constitution and separation of powers some much-needed hope this Monday.
Via The New York Times:
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned whether the president can defer deportations for millions of people without specific congressional authorization, saying “that is a legislative task, not an executive task.”
“It’s as if the president is defining the policy and the Congress is executing it,” Justice Kennedy said. “That’s just upside down.”
Bingo! Actually, wasn’t that pretty much President Obama’s whole strategy? Even after seven years in office, President Obama is still a bit unclear on the concept of separation of powers.
And then there’s the whole question about the — um, legality — of those living here illegally.
As CNN reported, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito seemed particularly concerned with language in the administration’s guidance that said the program’s recipients would be “lawfully present,” which they suggested would contradict immigration law.
“How is it possible to lawfully work in the United States without lawfully being in the United States?” Alito asked.
Roberts added: “I mean, they’re lawfully present, and yet, they’re present in violation of the law?”
The case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, was heard by an eight-member court, and the absence of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, has altered the judicial dynamic. A 4-4 deadlock is now a live possibility, one that would leave in place an appeals court ruling that blocks the plan without setting a Supreme Court precedent.
The states challenging Mr. Obama’s immigration plan say he has repeatedly taken unilateral and unlawful action to sidestep Congress on gun control, gay rights, the minimum wage, contraception and climate change. White House and Justice Department officials have defended Mr. Obama’s approach as legal and valuable.
If the Supreme Court upholds Mr. Obama’s actions, the White House has vowed to move quickly to set up the program and begin enrolling immigrants before his successor takes over early next year. Democratic presidential candidates have said they would continue the program, but most of the Republicans in the race have vowed to dismantle it and redouble immigration enforcement.
I think we’re all aware of how critical the outcome of this case is. And while it’s a long way from over, today’s oral arguments are certainly cause for some optimism. And, hey, I’ll take it wherever I can get it these days.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]