It’s only a procedural setback for Barack Obama, but perhaps costly enough to derail his plans to use executive authority to stop enforcing immigration law for the rest of his term. ABC’s Phoenix affiliate treats it as though it were the end of the world, and is worth watching for its lack of balance. Despite the popularity of pro-enforcement policies in Arizona, KNXV only interviews a supporter of Obama’s executive amnesty in this piece, and then promises to try to find someone who supports the court action for an update in the morning.
So KNXV couldn’t rustle up even one opponent of Obama’s policy in Arizona for a news report on this story? (Note that they did manage to get in one shot at Sheriff Joe Arpaio, though.) Must be one hell of an investigative-news unit at that ABC affiliate.
It’s not really as big of a win legally, as the Associated Press’ much more balanced report makes clear:
President Barack Obama’s plan to protect from deportation an estimated 5 million people living in the United States illegally suffered another setback Monday in a ruling from a New Orleans-based federal appeals court.
In a 2-1 decision, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction blocking the administration’s immigration initiative. …
The 70-page majority opinion by Judge Jerry Smith, joined by Jennifer Walker Elrod, rejected administration arguments that the district judge abused his discretion with a nationwide order and that the states lacked standing to challenge Obama’s executive orders.
They acknowledged an argument that an adverse ruling would discourage potential beneficiaries of the plan from cooperating with law enforcement authorities or paying taxes. “But those are burdens that Congress knowingly created, and it is not our place to second-guess those decisions,” Smith wrote.
Don’t forget that all of this action comes in response to a temporary injunction sought by the states to stop the Obama administration from creating massive headaches within their states. The injunction by Judge Andrew Hanen applies while his court presides over a legal fight over the merits of the lawsuits brought by 26 states. All this does is put a hold on those actions until Hanen concludes the case. That may be enough to run out the clock on Obama, though, who only has 15 more months in office.
The Obama administration has a couple of options left. They can either take this to an en banc hearing at the 5th Circuit, but even if that resulted in a win, the states would immediately appeal to the Supreme Court and would almost certainly win a stay until a decision was made — again, on a temporary injunction and not the merits of the lawsuit. The White House will probably choose the faster option and hope to get on the Supreme Court’s docket, as that may be the only way Obama will have enough time to employ his executive authority to do anything.
Update: Andrew Malcolm thinks the joy may be especially fleeting, considering Obama’s track record at SCOTUS:
The decision only temporarily settles a legal fight about what happens during the main legal fight. As it did during previous challenges to ObamaCare, the administration is certain to appeal to the Supreme Court, likely as soon as this term.
But that didn’t dampen the elation of Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton, the lead attorney.
“Today,” Paxton said, “the Fifth Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else. Texas, leading a charge of 26 states, has secured an important victory to put a halt to the president’s lawlessness.”
Such legal joy has proven fleeting in past state challenges of Obama’s legislation and executive actions, as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obama.
Obama has had his share of setbacks at SCOTUS too, and in this case they might be inclined to choose discretion and keep a temporary injunction in place. We shall see soon enough.