Obama immigration policy remains blocked by divided Supreme Court
Obama immigration policy remains blocked by divided Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court [official website] split 4-4 [opinion, PDF] Thursday in United States v. Texas [SCOTUSblog materials], allowing an order blocking enforcement of the Obama administration’s immigration police to remain in place. The per curiam opinion read simply, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.” The question before the court was whether a state that provides subsidies to undocumented immigrants has standing to challenge the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] regarding its guidance seeking to establish a process for considering deferred action for more undocumented immigrants. Under the Obama administration, DHS has long utilized a system of “deferred action,” meaning it does not pursue deportation for certain illegal immigrants on a discretionary basis. In 2014 Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson [official profile] issued guidance seeking a deferred action protocol be established for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for five years and either came here as children or currently have children who are US citizens or permanent residents. Twenty-six states joined a suit [JURIST report] by Texas to challenge this guidance, arguing that the policy will create more immigrants with a deferred action status, and states must sustain a financial burden to maintain these individuals in their state systems. A federal judge blocked the policy [JURIST report] last year.

Also Thursday, the court split 4-4 [opinion, PDF] in Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians [SCOTUSblog materials]. The issue was whether tribal courts can hear civil cases involving non-Indian businesses that have contractual agreements with the tribe. The case involves a sexual harassment claim brought in a tribal court by an Indian intern against the manager of a Dollar General store leasing property from and taking part in an internship program paid for by the tribe. While Indian courts do not generally have jurisdiction over non-Indian persons or corporations, at issue is language from an earlier Supreme Court decision in Montana v. United States [opinion] that a “tribe may regulate, through taxation, licensing, or other means, the activities of nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with the tribe or its members.” Thursday’s split allows a lower court ruling, which had found jurisdiction, to stand.