A supreme court ruling today has blocked the termination of a court-admitted unconstitutional executive action known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The background of the DACA controversy, and the prior position of the court on the sister program DAPA, makes this ruling the most political ruling yet by Chief Justice John Roberts. [pdf link to ruling here]
The court decision was a 5-4 ruling. Justice Roberts sided with the four liberal justices in blocking the termination of the executive program. What makes this ruling outrageous is within the majority opinion of the court they recognize the Trump administration has the legal and constitutional authority to terminate the program; but the court, specifically John Roberts, doesn’t like the way in which the administration might do it.
The crux of Justice Roberts’ opinion is openly political. The majority admit there is no constitutional protection for DACA recipients, and the Trump administration has the authority to dissolve and reverse the protections under the previous executive action; however, Roberts specifically cites his concern with deportation.
Accepting the argument that benefits provided by DACA were illegal, Roberts observed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), via the DACA dissolution memo of Elaine Duke, could have still retained protection from deportation. Framing the argument of Justice Robert’s concern is that DHS concluded, without any explanation, protection from deportation terminates with the removal of DACA protections and benefits.
Additionally, Roberts added, former DHS Secretary Elaine Duke (2017) did not address whether DACA recipients had counted on the existence of the program in arranging their lives; if she had, he suggested, she “might have considered more accommodating termination dates” for DACA recipients who were in the middle of academic programs, military service or medical treatment.
The core of John Robert’s argument is that DACA recipients, the previously transported children of illegal aliens into the United States, would be subject to deportation if the DACA protections were terminated.
Judge Roberts, and all other justices, concede the executive action could be terminated or reversed because, well, after all it’s not a law; but their majority decision rests on their expressed desire to block deportation. That’s the fulcrum of the Robert’s opinion.
That is not a legal position, that framework is entirely a political position.
The admission that President Trump has the authority to terminate DACA, and the simultaneous admission they don’t like what Trump might do after the termination, is why I say this is the most political decision to ever come out of the Supreme Court.
To make the issue even more unfathomable, we must remember when the sister program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Arrivals (DAPA) was terminated, Justice John Roberts was on the other side of the argument. WHAT A CONTRAST.
After the death of Justice Scalia there were only eight justices on the supreme court. In 2016 the court ruled 4-4 to allow the lower court ruling to stand that terminated the DAPA program (Judge Andrew Hanen).
In the 2016 ruling Justice Roberts supported the termination. However, in 2020 with an almost identical fact pattern between DACA and DAPA for legal review, Justice Roberts flips his position and blocks the termination. Yeah, that’s political – nothing more.
♦CONSEQUENCES – President Trump has openly said he was awaiting a ruling in favor of the termination of DACA so that congress would be forced to finally deal with the issue. The core outlook for President Trump was to use the DACA issue to force resolution inside a much needed immigration bill.
Without a doubt this decision today must be very frustrating.
The ruling doesn’t stop the Trump administration from terminating DACA eventually; it only blocks them from using the 2017 DHS memorandum issued by DHS Secretary Elaine Duke. Which again points the political nature of this particular decision.
The Trump administration can still use the June 2018 termination memorandum issued by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; which was written in support of the previous Duke memo and which the supreme court refused to consider in their review…. Because the SCOTUS wanted to punt the DACA problem to the November 2020 election.
Yes, that’s correct. The concerns the Supreme Court had with the 2017 DACA termination, memo outlined by DHS secretary Elaine Duke, were reconciled by the 2018 DACA termination memo written by Kirstjen Nielsen… That’s why SCOTUS refused to review it.