On April 18, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear opening arguments in a lawsuit that 26 states have filed against the Obama administration. Central to the case are President Obama’s 2014 executive actions – known collectively as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, or DAPA. These actions built on Obama’s earlier DACA actions, expanding amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. A lower court has already placed an injunction against the administration, blocking Obama from rolling out many aspects of the program until the legality of the actions can be determined.
It is that injunction that will be before the Supreme Court, meaning they may not rule conclusively on the actions themselves. Still, both the states themselves and Republicans in the House of Representatives hope that the court will find Obama’s actions unconstitutional and put this sordid saga to bed once and for all.
“The Executive may disagree with the laws Congress enacts and may try to persuade Congress to change them,” says a brief filed by the House on behalf of the plaintiffs. “But neither any immigration law now on the books nor the Constitution empowers the Executive to authorize—let alone facilitate—the prospective violation of those laws on a massive class-wide scale.”
There is more at stake here than Obama’s DAPA program. In regards to illegal immigration, a ruling favorable to the administration would throw the floodgates wide open and force Congress to put some form of immigration reform into the pipeline. Beyond that issue, however, an administration victory would forever alter the balance of power upon which our entire republic rests. The Supreme Court would essentially make it legal for the president of the United States to summarily ignore those laws with which he disagrees.
A victory for the states, on the other hand, would be disastrous for Obama and – perhaps more importantly – Hillary Clinton. Clinton has been running on a pro-immigration platform, promising that she will expand Obama’s executive actions to protect illegal aliens. She has also vowed to use the power of the presidency as Obama has, running around a hostile Congress whenever possible. If the court comes down on the side of the states, much of her platform will be destroyed in an instant.
Unfortunately, the current ideological makeup of the court makes a 4-4 split the most likely outcome. That will throw the case back to the lower courts, and we’ll see a legal fight that will almost certainly last until well after the election. Still…that’s better than some outcomes.