US Supreme Court rules states lack constitutional standing in key immigration case News
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US Supreme Court rules states lack constitutional standing in key immigration case

The US Supreme Court ruled Friday in US v. Texas that Texas and Louisiana do not have constitutional standing to sue the federal government over a 2021 Homeland Security Memorandum that focuses immigration enforcement actions on non-citizens who are suspected of terrorism, committed serious crimes or are caught at the border entering illegally.

The crux of the case rests on Article III of the US Constitution, which governs the Court’s judicial purview. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the majority, largely relied on the precedent set by Linda R.S. V. Richard D., which prevented an individual from suing a state, where the state had a policy of only prosecuting some who did not pay child support. Justice Kavanaugh writes, quoting Linda R.S.:

The Court concluded that “a citizen lacks standing to contest the policies of the prosecuting authority when he himself is neither prosecuted nor threatened with prosecution.” The Court’s Article III holding in Linda R. S. applies to challenges to the Executive Branch’s exercise of enforcement discretion over whether to arrest or prosecute.

Justice Kavanaugh also pointed out the lack of historical precedent cited by the states in their brief, saying, “The States have not cited any precedent, history, or tradition of courts ordering the Executive Branch to change its arrest or prosecution policies so that the Executive Branch makes more arrests or initiates more prosecutions.”

Justices Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas concurred with the judgment. Justice Gorsuch mainly focused on the issue of injury vs. redressability, meaning while the States proved injury in the form of costs and safety concerns, they did not prove that these injuries could be allayed by the Court. Justice Barrett also focused on the issue of redressability in her concurrence.

Justice Samuel Alito dissented, sharply criticizing the majority, comparing its conception of executive power to that of a king, saying, “The majority’s conception of Presidential authority smacks of the powers that English monarchs claimed prior to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, namely, the power to suspend the operation of existing statutes, and to grant dispensations from compliance with statutes.”

The states of Texas and Louisiana originally filed their lawsuit against the federal government in 2021, saying:

The Biden Administration is refusing to take custody of criminal aliens despite federal statutes requiring it to do so. Instead, Defendants have issued and implemented unlawful agency memoranda that allow criminal aliens already convicted of felony offenses to roam free in the United States. Such aliens belong in federal custody, as Congress required.

The US District Court Southern District of Texas ruled in favor of the states, enjoining Homeland Security from enforcing the memorandum.

Multiple states including New York, California and Massachusetts filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Homeland Security and the federal government, while others such as Arizona, Alabama and Florida filed in support of Texas and Louisiana, dividing the states largely along party lines.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas celebrated the ruling, saying, “DHS [Department of Homeland Security] looks forward to reinstituting these Guidelines, which had been effectively applied by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to focus limited resources and enforcement actions on those who pose a threat to our national security, public safety, and border security.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott criticized the ruling, saying, “This decision is outrageous. SCOTUS [the Supreme Court] gives the Biden Admin. carte blanche to avoid accountability for abandoning enforcement of immigration laws.”