The Supreme Court on Tuesday took up arguments on one of the most important cases of the docket – and according to reports from within those hallowed chambers, the court’s conservative majority appears ready to allow President Trump’s decision to end DACA stand as is.
This ruling, which would preserve the rightful powers of the presidency (as well as restore them after Obama’s illegal push), is the only correct one the court could make. But with plenty of controversy surrounding the case and with liberal immigration activists out there who believe what feels good should trump what is legally allowable, the outcome remains in doubt. Hopefully, the signs we got on Tuesday can offer some measure of comfort.
At issue are several aspects of President Trump’s executive order. One, the justices will have to determine whether or not Trump had the authority to end DACA. This should be a slam dunk for federal lawyers to prove, seeing as how Trump has the same executive powers as any other president. If Obama could create DACA via executive order, there’s no reason why Trump should not have the power to end it via the same mechanism.
The second aspect is whether or not the Trump administration had sufficient justification for ending the program. This is the part where things could get sticky: the process of the order. The Supreme Court ruled against that Census citizenship question not because they thought it unconstitutional but because the administration did not go through the proper channels when creating the question. If the justices decide the same is true for ending DACA, it could prove fatal for Trump’s desire to end the program.
Thankfully, the conservative justices appear at least tentatively convinced that a proper process was followed.
“I assume that was a very considered decision,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh said on Tuesday.
“What good,” asked Justice Neil Gorsuch, “would another five years of litigation over the adequacy of that explanation serve?”
But the most important aspect may have less to do with Trump’s motivations than Obama’s legal basis for implementing DACA in the first place. Texas, among other interests, has argued that the 44th president assumed power that he did not have when he essentially rewrote immigration policy from the Oval Office. If the Supreme Court agrees with that argument, the fact of Trump’s executive order may not matter so much: They’ll simply strike down DACA from the bench.
Judging by the justices’ remarks on Tuesday (and the common sense basis of Trump’s decision), it’s hard to imagine that the court would rule against him. We’ll find out this spring.