Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts dealt a blow to the Trump administration Thursday morning, authoring a 5-4 decision reversing the administration’s effort to bring an end to the Obama administration’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act with an executive order.
In the decision, the court appeared to suggest that the Trump administration moved too quickly to strike the program and did not go about reversing DACA in the correct matter, though it does not outline what it believes to be the right procedure.
Fox News reports that “the court said the move to eliminate the program that grants privileges to children who entered the U.S. illegally as minors was ‘arbitrary and capricious,’ although they did not rule on the merits of the program itself.”
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern,’” Roberts writes in the opinion, in which he sided with the court’s four left-leaning justices. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
Roberts went on to say that the administration “failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance,” and specifically how to tie up loose ends related to the program, including what would happen to DACA recipients who would have their benefits stripped after relying on them for a period of time.
The court then demanded the Department of Homeland Security re-address the issue if they still believe that DACA should come to an end.
“That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner,” Roberts wrote. “The appropriate recourse is, therefore, to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”
The DACA program began as the result of an executive order issued by then-President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump rescinded the program with his own executive order, which, to the Trump White House, appeared to be the correct way to undo the measure. The Supreme Court, though, said Thursday that the president was required to consider procedural and ancillary issues attendant to rescinding the program in addition to issuing an executive order ending DACA.
The dissent, led by Justice Clarence Thomas, focused on the majority’s decision to take issue with the effects of eliminating DACA rather than the legal procedure used to end the program.
“These cases could—and should—have ended with a determination that his legal conclusion was correct. Instead, the majority today concludes that DHS was required to do far more,” Thomas writes.
“Without grounding its position in either the APA or precedent, the majority declares that DHS was required to overlook DACA’s obvious legal deficiencies and provide additional policy reasons and justifications before restoring the rule of law,” he continues. “This holding is incorrect, and it will hamstring all future agency attempts to undo actions that exceed statutory authority. I would, therefore, reverse the judgments below and remand with instructions to dissolve the nationwide injunctions.”
The Supreme Court issued only this decision Thursday. At least one decision remains outstanding before the court adjourns for this session.
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