Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito stood as the sole dissenter in a recent ruling where a majority concluded that Louisiana and Texas did not have standing to challenge an immigration policy implemented by the Biden administration.
In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court determined that the state challengers lacked the necessary standing to bring a lawsuit against the immigration enforcement priorities set forth by the Biden administration in 2021.
Following the court’s decision, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas expressed his approval, stating that the ruling paves the way for the enforcement guidelines he had previously announced.
“According to Texas and Louisiana, the arrest policy spelled out in the Department of Homeland Security’s 2021 Guidelines does not comply with the statutory arrest mandates in §1226(c) and §1231(a)(2). The States want the Federal Judiciary to order the Department to alter its arrest policy so that the Department arrests more noncitizens,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority.
“The threshold question is whether the States have standing under Article III to maintain this suit. The answer is no.”
In contrast to Kavanaugh’s perspective, Alito argued that the majority disregarded a significant precedent in order to bolster expansive executive power.
Alito further expressed his concern that the ruling would sanction such power and accused the Supreme Court of neglecting its essential duty to fulfill its mandate.
He highlighted that the two states failed to provide any legal precedent, historical basis, or traditional grounds for federal courts to entertain such lawsuits.
“The Court holds Texas lacks standing to challenge a federal policy that inflicts substantial harm on the State and its residents by releasing illegal aliens with criminal convictions for serious crimes,” Alito wrote.
“In order to reach this conclusion, the Court brushes aside a major precedent that directly controls the standing question, refuses to apply our established test for standing, disregards factual findings made by the District Court after a trial, and holds that the only limit on the power of a President to disobey a law like the important provision at issue is Congress’s power to employ the weapons of inter-branch warfare—withholding funds, impeachment and removal, etc.,”
He also wrote: “I would not blaze this unfortunate trail. I would simply apply settled law, which leads ineluctably to the conclusion that Texas has standing.”
After the Biden administration introduced its immigration guidance, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction against the guidance, and a federal appellate panel in New Orleans declined to intervene.
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In a separate lawsuit filed by Arizona, Ohio, and Montana, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati overturned a district judge’s order that had temporarily blocked the policy from taking effect.
“This sweeping Executive Power endorsed by today’s decision may at first be warmly received by champions of a strong Presidential power, but if Presidents can expand their powers as far as they can manage in a test of strength with Congress, presumably Congress can cut executive power as much as it can manage by wielding the formidable weapons at its disposal,” Alito also wrote. “That is not what the Constitution envisions.”
Concluding, the Bush-appointed justice wrote that the Supreme Court “exercise[s] the power conferred by Article III of the Constitution, and we must be vigilant not to exceed the limits of our constitutional role. But when we have jurisdiction, we have a ‘virtually unflagging obligation’ to exercise that authority.”