On United States v Texas

On the Surface

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing opening arguments in the landmark case, United States v Texas.

Although this case is about more than a few issues, the biggest point of contention is this: Texas (joined by other states, as well) is challenging a directive of President Obama, one that would allow millions of undocumented immigrants to remain inside the United States.

 

Case Background

United States v Texas revolves around the Obama administration’s 2014 directive to grant so-called “deferred action” (a temporary ceasing of threats of deportation) to millions of undocumented immigrants. The idea behind the program–known as DAPA–is that it would allow the undocumented parents of US citizens to remain inside the country (DAPA stands for “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents”).

Meanwhile, Texas and its allied states claim that Obama’s plan retcons existing immigration law and that the directive failed to go through the customary “notice and comment” procedure (where the public takes notice of proposed regulations and provides input). Thus, they claim, the statute is unconstitutional.

Potential Outcomes

If the Supreme Court sides with Texas and destroys DAPA, it’s unlikely that any meaningful action on immigration will occur during the Obama administration. But if the Court sides with Obama–ruling that the program is constitutional–Democrats will scramble to roll the program out quickly before another challenge arises.

But the death of Antonin Scalia  could throw a wrench into everything. A 4-4 tie is very possible, and this would mean that the decision of the lower court would stand (where the program is essentially left in limbo and is put into the hands of the next president).

United States v Texas is an incredibly convoluted case, and it’s already April–near the end of the Supreme Court’s term. At any rate, the court will likely issue a ruling sometime in June. And, of the many significant rulings of this Supreme Court term, this will likely be the last.

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