The Supreme Court has ruled against President Trump in a set of cases over his effort to end the Obama-era executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
The 5-4 opinion was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts who was joined by the court’s four liberals. Roberts reasoned that the Trump administration’s termination of the program was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of federal law that governs administrative procedure. Justice Roberts stated, "We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. 'The wisdom' of those decisions 'is none of our concern.'" Roberts expanded on this idea in his majority opinion:
The Fifth Circuit, the highest court to offer a reasoned opinion on DAPA’s legality, found that DAPA violated the INA because it ex-tended eligibility for benefits to a class of unauthorized aliens. But the defining feature of DAPA (and DACA) is DHS’s decision to defer removal, and the Fifth Circuit carefully distinguished that forbearance component from the associated benefits eligibility. Eliminating benefits eligibility while continuing forbearance thus remained squarely within Duke’s discretion. Yet, rather than addressing forbearance in her decision, Duke treated the Attorney General’s conclusion regarding the illegality of benefits as sufficient to rescind both benefits and forbearance, without explanation. That reasoning repeated the error in Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the United States, Inc. v. State Farm— treating a rationale that applied to only part of a policy as sufficient to rescind the entire policy.
Simply put, SCOTUS rejected the administration's attempt to end the executive order because the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security at the time, Elaine Duke, an Obama Appointee, justified the decision to end DACA using solely the benefits argument. Justice Roberts ruled that DACA is by its nature both a benefit AND protection from deportation, so the government, in Robert's opinion, had to argue against both aspects in order to fully end the program.
In light of today's DACA decision, re-upping the back story of why the Trump administration didn't give any policy reasons when it ended the program, one of the factors in SCOTUS' finding that doing so was "arbitrary & capricious." Elaine Duke refused https://t.co/mDEexXSbBU— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) June 18, 2020
The ruling will protect hundreds of thousands of young aliens who have been shielded from deportation and allowed to receive work permits under the "executive branch memorandum." There were about 700,000 DACA recipients at the time the Trump Administration ordered the program to wind down in September 2017. As part of the Court's decision, the program will be reinstated with its 2012 parameters and the Government must begin accepting new applications.
Justice Thomas, who wrote the dissenting opinion joining with Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh explained what he found most incongruent about the Court's majority opinion: "To state it plainly, the Trump administration rescinded DACA the same way that the Obama administration created it: unilaterally, and through a mere memorandum." Justice Thomas continued:
DHS created DACA during the Obama administration without any statutory authorization and without going through the requisite rulemaking process. As a result, the program was unlawful from its inception. The majority does not even attempt to explain why a court has the authority to scrutinize an agency’s policy reasons for rescinding an unlawful program under the arbitrary and capricious microscope. The decision to countermand an unlawful agency action is clearly reasonable. So long as the agency’s determination of illegality is sound, our review should be at an end.
NumbersUSA's Director of Government Relations, Rosemary Jenks stated on the decision:
NumbersUSA is disappointed that the majority opinion on DACA failed to consider what Justice Thomas rightly concluded: DACA was an illegal use of executive authority from the start. Clearly, an illegal policy must be reversed in order to restore the rule of law. The Court’s decision to require the administration to jump through additional procedural hoops to terminate an unlawful program that was created without jumping through those same hoops makes no sense.
Please continue to check in as more will be added to this story throughout the day.
Updated: Thu, Jul 2nd 2020 @ 10:40am EDT