June 19, 2020

Supreme Court Rules on DACA

On Thursday, “by a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled that the [Trump] administration acted improperly in terminating [DACA]... Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices, agreed with the challengers that the decision to terminate DACA violated the [Administrative Procedure Act (APA)]…

“Roberts reiterated that the court was not deciding ‘whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies.’ Instead, he stressed, the court addressed ‘only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action’ – which, in the majority’s view, it did not. The solution, Roberts continued, was for the court to send the issue back to the Department of Homeland Security for it to reconsider and, if it wants to rescind the program again, for it to offer a better explanation.” Scotusblog

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports the ruling, arguing that the reasoning provided by the Trump administration was insufficient, and that rescinding the program would leave hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and their families in limbo.

“This doesn't make Roberts a born-again partisan liberal. It makes him a defender of the rule of law and an institutionalist. How the federal government acts matters almost as much as, and sometimes more than, what it does. Laws, rules, and norms need to be followed. Decisions need to be explained and justified in ways that make sense. They can't be arbitrary, capricious, or motivated by outright animus. And justifications can't be fabricated after the fact in order to conceal the true motives of government officials…

“Presidents and their appointees can't simply do anything they want, even when the aim falls within their purview. They need to abide by the rule of law in taking action. That leaves open the possibility of the Trump administration trying again in a more cautious and careful way. If the administration does that, Roberts may well sign off on a rescission of DACA.”
Damon Linker, The Week

“The administration’s approach [to the case] was ‘We don’t got to show you no stinking reasons.’… That none-of-your-business argument is sometimes correct, but it has become the solicitor general’s go-to trope under Trump in a wide variety of areas, and may be wearing a bit thin. In this case, the government argued that DACA itself was a simple ‘nonenforcement’ decision, and thus not reviewable in court. But the majority wasn’t having it. DACA set complicated procedures and offered benefits (relief from deportation), Roberts wrote; that was reviewable…

“‘DHS was ‘required to assess whether there were reliance interests, determine whether they were significant, and weigh any such interests against competing policy concerns,’’ Roberts wrote. The agency did not even pretend to do that.”
Garrett Epps, The Atlantic

“Under DACA, President Barack Obama’s administration invited Dreamers to submit highly sensitive and detailed information in exchange for the promise of renewable work permits and a reprieve from the fear of deportation… When they submitted their DACA applications, the 700,000 recipients made the courageous, conscious decision to hang their lives on the good word of our government. But shortly after taking office, President Trump rescinded Mr. Obama’s policy…

“But for Thursday’s decision, undocumented immigrants would have been the latest to suffer from our national instability, though they would have been far from the last. Perhaps in the face of the truths our nation has been forced to reckon with in the past few weeks, our highest court has refused to allow our executive branch to perform its about-face without an adequate accounting of the significant reliance placed on the law not just by the Dreamers but also by the citizens who love them, employ them and rely on them.”
Qian Julie Wang, New York Times

“There are currently some twenty-seven thousand DACA recipients employed in the health-care sector, working as doctors, nurses, and home health aides. COVID-19, the lawyers wrote, ‘throws into sharp relief DACA recipients’ important contributions to the country and the significant adverse consequences of eliminating their ability to live and work without fear of imminent deportation.’ When Trump first tried to cancel DACA, economists estimated that it would starve the U.S. economy of hundreds of billions of dollars over the following decade; the current recession would likely have broadened that damage.”
Jonathan Blitzer, New Yorker

“Immigration is supposed to be Trump’s signature issue. Yet a majority of Americans have disapproved of Trump’s handling of immigration throughout his presidency, according to surveys from Gallup, CNN-SSRS and CBS News. You’d never know it from Trump’s rhetoric, but the share of Americans who believe that immigrants strengthen, rather than burden, the United States has generally trended upward for the past decade, reaching 62 percent last year, according to Pew Research Center…

“In more than a dozen recent polls, supermajorities of Americans (and a majority of Trump voters!) have said they believe dreamers should be granted permanent legal status or citizenship… [Rescinding DACA would] run counter to the interests of these young immigrants, the economy and Trump’s own political career… the Supreme Court just saved Trump from himself.”
Catherine Rampell, Washington Post

From the Right

The right opposes the ruling, arguing that the reasoning provided by the Trump administration was sufficient given that DACA was itself illegal, and that only Congress has the authority to offer relief to the Dreamers.

The right opposes the ruling, arguing that the reasoning provided by the Trump administration was sufficient given that DACA was itself illegal, and that only Congress has the authority to offer relief to the Dreamers.

“The Court did not squarely decide today whether DACA was illegal, but… Only one Justice (Sotomayor) even questioned whether the Trump administration had the legal power to repeal DACA. The Court, moreover, assumed for the purposes of the decision that DACA itself was illegal… If elections for the presidency cannot undo major executive branch policies, why bother having elections at all? And if it is harder to repeal illegal executive actions than to adopt them in the first place, we have completely lost the plot of how a nation of laws is supposed to work…

You might think that repealing an illegal policy should be a no-brainer, and Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch dissented on the basis that the government should not be required to continue breaking the law… [But] What the Court did, by scrapping DACA repeal after almost four years of obstruction in the courts, is to give DACA the benefit of status quo bias: The illegal policy is not asked to justify itself, while the repeal is struck down in its entirety even when a portion of it was incontestably justified.”
Dan McLaughlin, National Review

“Congress is ultimately responsible for the future of DACA and the program's participants, but thanks to Roberts, the legislative branch does not have a reason to pursue further legal action. He has shielded our lawmakers from the one thing they are supposed to do: legislate

“[Roberts] is encouraging the executive branch, not the legislature, to make the laws. By focusing on procedure rather than substance, Roberts has essentially created a new, impossible-to-reach standard by which past executive orders can be undone — a standard that requires current presidents to jump through hoops and follow rules that did not apply to past presidents. As Thomas notes, this creates ‘perverse incentives, particularly for outgoing administrations’ that can now ‘bind their successors’ through unlawful executive action.”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

“The Obama Administration never followed the APA when it issued DACA in 2012. DACA was never tested in court, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015 issued an injunction against a companion order to DACA. The Supreme Court upheld that injunction, and the Trump Administration had every reason to believe DACA was thus illegal too… The Court’s ruling on administrative-law grounds reads like a desired policy outcome in search of justifying legal logic.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Conservatives could be forgiven for wondering why liberals need win only one election — or none — to have their choices made permanent, while President Trump’s voters could not even accomplish the modest goal of seeing the executive branch stop acting illegally to protect people who broke the law…

“Justice Thomas got it right in his dissent: In a nation of laws, no federal agency should ever need more reason to pull an unlawful regulation up by the roots. The Court’s flimsy rationales — that the Department of Homeland Security should have addressed whether people relied on DACA and whether there were alternatives to complete repeal of DACA — might be a fair critique on a job evaluation of DHS staffers, but they are no basis for ordering the president to enforce a policy that exceeds the president’s legal power. Meanwhile, thanks to a nationwide injunction, the ‘resistance’ has managed to run out the clock for nearly four years.”
The Editors, National Review

“Where does this leave Trump and the administration? They can go through the rulemaking process again, this time dotting Is and crossing Ts more explicitly, to end DACA. That would put the effort square in the middle of an election, however, and it would only end up back in court again. That would be a lot of risk for little immediate reward…

This might be more valuable for Trump as an election-year argument. He could blame the courts for blocking his efforts to fix immigration issues and making the judiciary even more of a campaign focus than it would otherwise be. If voters really want immigration and law-and-order policies implemented correctly without judicial activists blocking progress, Trump can argue, voters need him in place to pick the next two or three SCOTUS justices when those openings occur. Plus, Trump can argue, he needs a Republican-controlled Senate to confirm them.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

A libertarian's take

“This is obviously great news for Dreamers because the administration does not have the time now to scrap DACA before the November elections. It is also good news for the vast majority of the country, including 69 percent of Trump voters, who don't have the stomach to watch folks who've built crime-free lives in America with their grit and hard work hauled away from family and friends into detention camps and deported to countries they don't know. But it is also good news for the president himself because the ruling extricates him from a political trap of his own making… It's a win-win-win.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

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