This week, President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will be argued before the Supreme Court for the first time. As a result of a lawsuit brought by Texas and 25 other states, the Court will finally decide whether or not Obama’s amnesty violated federal law.
Or will it?
Eager to avoid a 4-4 split, Chief Justice John Roberts may limit the Supreme Court’s ruling to the narrowest possible question: whether or not the states actually have standing to sue the Obama administration. From the New York Times:
A narrow ruling would in some ways echo Chief Justice Roberts’s 2012 opinion sustaining the central feature of the health care law on grounds so carefully calibrated that no other justice joined all of his opinion. And it would be consistent with his stated preference for achieving consensus by defining the legal question at issue in a case as narrowly as possible.
At present, Obama’s amnesty – DAPA – is on hold, blocked by a federal judge who determined that the president may have overstepped his constitutional authority. Both the administration and the states would love the Supreme Court to issue an expansive ruling that will put this baby to bed once and for all. But many factors – the abbreviated makeup of the current court not least among them – make that an unlikely outcome. Most observers expect that the court, under the guidance of Justice Roberts, will kick the case back to the lower courts in one fashion or another.
However, if the court decides that the states have no legal standing to sue, it will be a major victory for Obama. It would essentially erase the earlier injunction and allow his administration to roll out actions designed to protect the parents of “Dreamers” who have already been shielded from deportation. Absent a lawsuit with a more compelling case for standing – or congressional action – it could change immigration policy in ways too numerous to count.
The stakes being what they are, this case is a firm reminder of why it’s so crucial that we fill Antonin Scalia’s seat with a constitutional conservative. Roberts has already proven himself all too willing to side with the liberals. Without a significant and influential conservative tie-breaker, we could see a future filled with ghastly decisions on everything from immigration to gun rights. And, as the Obama regime has made abundantly clear, it’s a lot easier to stop bad policy at the outset than it is to turn back the clock at a later time.