In a nine-word ruling Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rescue Barack Obama’s mass amnesty program, which would have given residency and other rights to millions of illegal aliens now in the United States.
A divided court, 4-4, declared: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.”
The tie vote effectively upheld a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in favor of the states in a lawsuit against Obama’s plan, which he directed through a series of orders from his administrative agencies.
Texas and 25 other states sued to halt the plan from taking effect, and a federal district judge in Texas ruled the White House could not implement its program.
In February 2015, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen granted a temporary injunction halting Obama’s unilateral action to allow as many as 5 million illegal aliens stay in the U.S.
The administration acted apart from Congress, even though Obama had acknowledged he is “not king” and “can’t do these things just by myself.”
Obama said Thursday he was disappointed the court was “unable to reach a decision” and said he looked forward to the confirmation of a ninth justice “to break the tie” in the case.
He blasted Republicans for refusing to consider his Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, saying they have refused to do their “most basic of jobs” under the Constitution, which actually gives Congress latitude regarding the confirmation process.
Obama said that in the meantime, the tie-vote Thursday will have little impact, arguing his current policies don’t target illegals for deportation unless have a criminal record.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan called the decision a victory for the separation of powers, making the president’s action on immigration “null and void.”
“The Constitution is clear: The president is not permitted to write laws—only Congress is,” he said. “This is another major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”
Administration ‘intentionally deceptive’
With an eight-justice court left by the death of Antonin Scalia, the tie was expected. But it is likely Scalia would have joined his four colleagues on the conservative side of the bench who voted against Obama’s plan.
At issue was the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, which would allow certain categories of illegal aliens to stay in America to work if they have been in the country for at least five years and have maintained a criminal-free record.
As WND reported, while it was widely reported that Obama signed two executive orders in November 2014 to initiate the controversial plan, no executive orders were ever signed, and the policy was carried out through a Department of Homeland Security memorandum signed by Secretary Jeh Johnson.
The case drew attention when Hanen chastised Justice Department attorneys for being “intentionally deceptive,” at one point ordering ethics classes for them.
“Such conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose name includes the word ‘Justice,'” Hanen wrote.
The Justice Department attorneys had misled the court regarding when the Department of Homeland Security would begin implementing the plan.
In his Texas courtroom, the judge bluntly asked a Justice Department attorney whether or not Obama and federal officials can be believed regarding the administration’s executive action on immigration.
“I can trust what Secretary [Jeh] Johnson says … what President Obama says?” Hanen asked, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Fox News reported the judge even went further, instructing Justice Department attorney Kathleen Hartnett, “That’s a yes or no question.”
She responded, “Yes, your honor.”
Hanen had called a hearing on the issue of the deception. The Justice Department alleged Obama’s planned deportation reprieves would not go forward before he made a ruling. It turned out that federal officials already had delayed deportation for 108,000 people for three years and granted them work permits.
The administration had argued the reprieves were granted under a 2012 program that was not impacted by Hanen’s order. But the 2012 program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, granted only two-year reprieves, while the administration’s November order allows three-year deferrals.
DOJ officials argued “government attorneys hadn’t properly explained this because they had been focused on other parts of the proposed action.”
Hanen remained skeptical, asking, “Can I trust what the president says?”
The 26 states that brought the lawsuit at that time asked for sanctions against the federal government because of the misleading statements. Angela Colmenero, a lawyer from Texas, said the federal government provided “representations” that eventually proved untrue or “less than forthcoming.”
The states had brought the case because of the impact of the Obama policy’s potential impact on them.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said the Constitution “couldn’t be any clearer.”
“It’s Congress’s job to write the laws and it’s the president’s job to see that they are faithfully executed,” he said. “The president can’t just upend the Constitution any time the Congress disagrees with him. The separation of powers requires the president to seek congressional approval before policies can become law. That’s how the legislative process works and it is one of the things that distinguishes democracy from dictatorship, where a head of state simply rules by decree. President Obama doesn’t get to cheat the system just because it’s difficult.”
Issa said the case “comes down to is whether or not President Obama wildly overstepped the bounds of his office by unlawfully acting to circumvent Congress and forcing his will on the American people.”
Issa noted Obama had stated at least 22 times that he does not have the power to make the changes to immigration law. So when he took that action, Texas and 25 other states sued.
For example, in October 2010, Obama said: “I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. … I’ve got to have some partners to do it. … If Congress has laws on the books that says that people who are here who are not documented have to be deported, then I can exercise some flexibility in terms of where we deploy our resources, to focus on people who are really causing problems as opposed to families who are just trying to work and support themselves. But there’s a limit to the discretion that I can show because I am obliged to execute the law. … I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”
One hundred and thirteen members of Congress – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and former House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith – had filed a brief in the case asserting Obama’s plans are illegal.
“Our position is clear – President Obama’s executive action is unconstitutional and impermissibly disrupts the separation of powers,” said Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice.
His organization is representing the members of Congress and nearly a quarter-million other Americans “who understand President Obama’s overreach amounted to changing the law.” The friend-of-the-court pleading was submitted to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which earlier upheld Hanen’s order.
“This is simply unacceptable. Impatient presidents don’t get to change the law. We’re confident that the appeals court will correctly conclude that President Obama’s action is unlawful and unconstitutional and will upholding the findings of the district court,” Sekulow said.
In his original order, Hanen said the court found “that at least one plaintiff has satisfied all the necessary elements to maintain a lawsuit and to obtain a temporary injunction.”
“The United States of America, its departments, agencies, officers, agents and employees and Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of United States customs and Border Protection; Ronald D. Vitiello, deputy chief of United States Border Patrol, United States Customs and Border Protection; Thomas S. Winkowski, acting director of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Leon Rodriguez, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services are hereby enjoined from implementing any and all aspects or phases of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents,” the ruling said.
WND also reported when yet another a federal judge in Pennsylvania declared the amnesty unconstitutional.
“President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause and, therefore, is unconstitutional,” said U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
The judge noted Obama “contended that although legislation is the most appropriate course of action to solve the immigration debate, his executive action was necessary because of Congress’ failure to pass legislation, acceptable to him, in this regard.”
“This proposition is arbitrary and does not negate the requirement that the November 20, 2014, executive action be lawfully within the president’s executive authority,” the judge wrote. “It is not.”