Supreme Court Rules Trump Admin Improperly Tried to End DACA, Lets Protections for ‘Dreamers’ Stand
Do you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision?
by Causes | 6.18.20
What’s the story?
- The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California which held that the Trump administration’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was “arbitrary and capricious” and blocked the policy change.
- It means that the unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children (commonly known as "Dreamers") and received work authorization & protection from deportation under DACA will continue to have access to its protections for the foreseeable future.
- The decision doesn’t weigh in on the merits of DACA. Rather, it finds that the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to sufficiently justify its decision to end DACA.
What did the justices say?
- Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion, and was joined by the Court’s liberals ― Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, joined that opinion in full and Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the judgment in part. The opinion concluded:
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. “The wisdom” of those decisions “is none of our concern.” We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”
- While Justice Sotomayor joined the overall majority opinion, she dissented from Part IV, in which the majority found that DACA’s defenders failed to establish that the recession was motivated by animus that violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. Instead, she would’ve allowed them “to develop their equal protection claims on remand.”
- Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion that was joined by Justices Samuel Alito & Neil Gorsuch which dissented from the majority's overall judgment but concurred with the majority’s dismissal of the equal protection claim. Thomas’s opinion read in part:
“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision. The Court could have made clear that the solution respondents seek must come from the Legislative Branch. Instead, the majority has decided to prolong DHS’ initial overreach by providing a stopgap measure of its own. In doing so, it has given the green light for future political battles to be fought in this Court rather than where they rightfully belong ― the political branches. Such timidity forsakes the Court’s duty to apply the law according to neutral principles, and the ripple effects of the majority’s error will be felt throughout our system of self-government.
Perhaps even more unfortunately, the majority’s holding creates perverse incentives, particularly for outgoing administrations. Under the auspices of today’s decision, administrations can bind their successors by unlawfully adopting significant legal changes through Executive Branch agency memoranda… In other words, the majority erroneously holds that the agency is not only permitted, but required, to continue administering unlawful programs that it inherited from a previous administration.”
- Justice Samuel Alito joined Thomas’s dissent on all matters and wrote a brief dissenting opinion of his own that explained why.
- Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote an opinion of his own which, like Thomas’s opinion, dissented from the majority decision but concurred with its rejection of the equal protection claim.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Bread for the World via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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