Monday, April 18, 2016

Will SCOTUS Throw Out the Right's Immigration Case?

Other than bashing and stigmatizing gays few things bring the far right closer to orgasm that mistreating and demonizing immigrants - correction, non-white immigrants.  The two activities, of course are related in that the far right, especially the "godly Christian" crowd cannot stand anything or anyone who does not conform to their cult and racial niche.  This hatred of the "other" is what is really fueling the challengers to Barack Obama's immigration rules in United States v. Texas regardless of what the anti-immigration forces may claim.  With the United States Supreme Court scheduled to he oral arguments in the case, some now wonder if the court will punt and find that Texas has no standing to bring the challenge.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the possibility.  Here are article highlights:
The great immigration showdown is finally here. Today, the Supreme Court hears ninety minutes’ worth of oral arguments in United States v. Texas, conservatives’ challenge to President Obama’s executive orders on immigration policy.
The Court may decide to dodge the bullet rather than bite it, though.
They have that choice because there are, at heart, two major issues at stake in the case: first, whether Obama exceeded his executive authority, and second, whether states can sue him if so.
Normally, that second question—whether a party has standing—is the kind of thing that only lawyers care about. Standing is a requirement for any lawsuit, and it is at issue in many of them. But standing rarely makes the headlines, because it’s boring to ask whether we should even be asking the question the case is asking. Most non-lawyers would say, Get to the substance, already.
In this case, though, standing is substance. Anyone who watches a Republican debate, knows that immigration policy is a hot issue, and a huge mess. In theory, according to the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), all eleven million “undocumented immigrants”/ “illegal aliens” (you can usually tell what someone thinks based on which term they use) should be immediately deported from the United States.
In practice, however, only Donald Trump thinks that should really happen, and Trump, of course, is nuts. It would be enormously expensive, disruptive, and cruel to deport so many people at once. Families would be torn apart, and a massive system akin to a police state (internment camps included) would have to be set up, at a direct cost of an estimated $166 billion and an indirect cost of billions more in economic disruption.
As a result, for decades, the federal government has prioritized whom to deport and when. But who gets caught and who doesn’t is often arbitrary, with the government acting like a fisherman with a tiny net, grabbing a few fish at random but letting more slip away. Indeed, progressives have complained that deportations have actually increased under Obama, who is compelled to uphold the existing law.
Comprehensive immigration reform has stalled again and again, most recently in 2013, when a bill with support among conservatives and liberals died in the House due to Tea Party nativist fears.
That is why in 2012, and again in 2014, Obama put into place two administrative policies to attempt to rationalize and prioritize deportations actions. Those policies, DACA and DAPA, would effectively de-prioritize (“defer action” in their terms) about 1.2 million and 4 million people, respectively. For three years, they’d effectively be off the deportation list.
Republicans hate this. As evidenced by Trump’s rise, a significant portion of the Republican base really does want to deport 11 million people.
Here’s where standing comes in. Texas, joined by 24 other states, has said that it will suffer monetary harm if these policies are enacted—specifically, the cost of issuing driver’s licenses to all those now-quasi-legal illegal immigrants.
Of course, that monetary harm isn’t the real reason they’re suing. They’re suing because they’re Republican-led states (15 Democrat-led ones have filed an amicus brief on the other side) and they detest these policies. But this is how standing works all the time.
If Texas succeeds, then theoretically any state could sue the federal government to oppose a policy it doesn’t like: an environmental policy, a trade policy. All federal actions impose some costs on the states; is there anything that they couldn’t challenge?
Perhaps that’s why the district court’s opinion took 50 pages to grant standing to Texas, providing three separate bases for it in an opinion built out of right-wing talking points. But it’s easy to see the Supreme Court going the other way. Immigration is a political question, yet here it is at the Supreme Court, which is supposed to decide the law.
So the Supreme Court may well say “we don’t decide cases like these” both for reasons of Roberts Court judicial conservatism, and because if the Court does get to the merits of this case, we may end up with yet another 4-4 deadlock, and nothing resolved whatsoever.
On Obama’s side, the government has argued that DACA and DAPA are within the executive branch’s discretion. The government has to prioritize somehow, and this is no different from how previous administrations have prioritized for decades. 
If the Court reaches those questions, there will be ample law to guide it. But if the two sides are actually arguing politics while pretending to argue law, that’s a good sign that this is a political question after all, and not an actual case or controversy between parties with standing to sue. Maybe this debate belongs more on the courthouse steps than in the courtroom itself.

I hope Chief Justice John Roberts hands a defeat to the right wing hate merchants.

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