Legal scholars and conservative groups Friday slammed the Obama administration's appeal to the Supreme Court on last year's executive order to shield as many as 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation, with a University of California law professor predicting that the justices would beat back the president's "misreading of his powers" and remand the issue to Congress.
"If the Supreme Court takes the case, I expect it will rebuff President Obama's misreading of his powers under federal law and his refusal to execute the laws faithfully — his core constitutional responsibility," said John Yoo, a professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley. "While immigration is an important and controversial issue, its resolution must come in Congress, where the Constitution places it."
The White House moved two weeks after a federal appeals court ruled
that Obama had overstepped his authority, setting the stage for a politically charged court battle that could affect the president's legacy and the 2016 presidential race.
"The court of appeals' judgment enjoins nationwide a federal policy of great importance to federal law enforcement, to many states, and to millions of families with longstanding and close connections with this country," U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued in the appeal.
Verrilli contended that Texas and 25 other states lacked the legal right to challenge the program. He also argued that past Supreme Court cases afforded the president broad discretion in enforcing the immigration laws.
The amnesty program, announced last November, applies to people whose children are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and who meet other requirements.
Illegals then would be considered lawful residents and could obtain work permits and some public benefits.
The Supreme Court could rule as early as June. A federal judge in Texas had temporarily blocked the program in February.
Republicans have bitterly opposed the program, accusing President Obama with executive overreach and granting amnesty to lawbreakers.
"The president said himself more than 20 times that he didn't have the authority to unilaterally rewrite immigration law," Cynthia Meyer, a spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, told Newsmax on Friday.
"Three times federal courts have ruled in our favor, and we stand ready to continue defending the rule of law as we lead a 26-state coalition against the president's unconstitutional use of executive power."
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network in Washington, said that "the Obama administration's attempt to rule by pen and phone instead of democratic lawmaking is an affront to the Constitution's separation of powers."
"Finally, President Obama's lawless refusal to enforce the law is meeting its match in the courts," she said. "Both of the federal courts to examine this latest example of lawlessness have concluded that the administration's program is illegal, and the Supreme Court is likely to do the same."
Both Severino and Yoo served as law clerks to Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.
Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, called the appeal "the latest example in proving that one of President Obama's highest priorities is allowing millions of foreign citizens to take and hold U.S. jobs."
"Contrary to Obama's claims, the courts have not blocked him from largely suspending deportations of visa overstays and illegal border crossers," he added. "The only reason he is taking this case to the Supreme Court is to make sure that millions of these illegally-present foreign citizens get work permits to compete with struggling American workers for jobs and wages."
"This court filing is in keeping with the administration's insistence on moving Syrian refugees out of the safety of internationally-supervised camps in their own region so they can get life-time work permits and take scarce jobs in the United States," Beck said.
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