On Thursday, June 23, the Supreme Court yet again reached a tie on a decision after voting on an immigration case, blocking President Obama’s proposed plan of immigration reform. This serves as the second ruling that has resulted in a deadlock since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia in mid-February, leaving the Court with an even eight Justices.
The President’s plan was inspired by the case United States v. Texas, No. 15-674. The case regarded an executive action by President Obama in 2014 to allow up to five million unauthorized immigrants who are parents to citizens or to lawful permanent residents the ability to apply for a specific program that would protect them from being deported and give them work permits. The program is referred to as DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.
The deadlocked ruling likely comes as a result of the conservative half of the now eight total SCOTUS Justices [following the passing of Antonin Scalia] believing that majorly changing U.S. law cannot be done by one person single-handedly, but more specifically, by the President alone. Conservatives find major issue with what they believe to be President Obama’s attempts to expand executive power, as they believe strongly in a separation of powers and strict rule of law.
The ruling, or rather, the lack thereof, is incredibly disappointing news for the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country that will remain in the shadows so long as decisions such as this one continue to be made. The goal of the President’s plan was to provide peace of mind to the millions of law-abiding immigrants that have been working, paying taxes, and most importantly, raising U.S.-born children that have been earning degrees and going on to work as well after completing their educations. Sadly, though, the assurance of not having to fear deportation and separation from their children and this country that has been their home for so long will not be given to the millions that deserve it.
This decision additionally comes as a rather disappointing blow to President Obama and his agenda, as he has dealt with years of tedious battles with Congressional Republicans over their continuous refusal to support bipartisanship regarding updating immigration laws. The President has since said that it is a “frustrating” and “heartbreaking” setback, as comprehensive immigration reform was hoped to be the primary legacy of the Obama administration.
“…But for more than two decades now, our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” stated President Obama in a response to the news of the deadlock.
However, despite the President’s rather melancholy and disheartened air in his response speech, he still spoke with confidence in his belief that this country deserves a fair immigration policy that reflects the goodness of Americans and that we will hopefully achieve that in November, hinting at the hopeful election of Hillary Clinton.
He concluded his response with a powerful call to action, stating, “Now we’ve got a choice about who we’re going to be as a country. We’re going to have to decide if we’re a people who tolerate the hypocrisy of the system where the workers who pick our fruit or make our beds are going to never have a chance to get right with the law. Same goes for whether ‘we’re a people who accept the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms,’ or ‘educate the world’s brightest students’ only to send them away to ‘compete with us.’ These are all the questions that voters are now going to have to ask themselves and are going to have to answer in November.”
This deadlocked ruling comes as even more of a reason that the President and Democrats in general wish for Congressional Republicans to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland, so as to re-set the Court with nine Justices, rather than remain with the current even eight that will likely continue to reach ties in votes. This will only fuel liberals’ rhetoric stating the danger and virtual insanity of Republicans’ refusal to even meet with Garland, much less vote to appoint him as the newest Justice.
The decision was issued in just nine short words, stating, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.” Although, the consequential effects of that short statement will be greater than most can even imagine. Walter Dellinger, the solicitor general under President Clinton’s administration, remarked, “Seldom have the hopes of so many been crushed by so few words.”