The Supreme Court DAPA Decision: Some Afterthoughts
It's been a little over a month since the Supreme Court issued its disappointing but non-precedential split vote decision affirming the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' preliminary injunction against President Obama's proposed nationwide, but limited, "Deferred Action for Parents” (DAPA) Program for undocumented parents of US citizen (USC) and lawful permanent resident (LPR) children.
If implemented, the Program would have had the salutary effect of legally recognizing the presence of millions of undocumented alien parents of USC and LPR children, and would have given these parents a temporary right to work and ability to establish some form of a legal presence in the United States, though without giving them formal legal status.
Those wishing to learn more about DAPA and the effect that the Supreme Court's decision on it should read the excellent online article, http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/understanding-legal-challenges-executive-action Understanding the Legal Challenges to Executive Action published by the American Immigration Council, (AIC)
a nonprofit affiliate of the American immigration lawyers Association (AILA).
In this post I want to focus on something else. It is a shame that there were only eight justices on the Supreme Court, due to the death of Justice Scalia, at the time that United States vs. Texas was decided. However, it is a disgrace to our system of justice, our federal government, and our Constitution that, for purely partisan political reasons, the Republican party controlled Senate refuses even to hold hearings on a replacement for Judge Scalia solely because Pres. Obama, a Democrat, is the one putting the candidate for Scalia's replacement forward.
Technically, I suppose there is room to argue that the Senate's advise and consent function for Supreme Court nominees has no time limit. However, a decision to stop the process for an entire year, until a new president is elected, is completely unprecedented. Moreover, it flies in the face of long-established practice under our Constitution to act with relative speed to fill Supreme Court vacancies. This is so precisely because of cases like United States vs. Texas, and the importance such cases have on the lives of millions of people.
The nation's press is not off the mark in prodding the Senate to act: http://mediamatters.org/research/2016/02/24/newspaper-editorial-boards-overwhelmingly-urge/208787
Newspaper Editorial Boards Overwhelmingly Urge Senate To "Do Your Job" And Vote On Obama's SCOTUS Nominee.
There is a good reason for the press's concerns. The United States of America has one of the strongest democracies in history because of our Constitution. But no system of government can survive repeated assaults on the very rules that establish how it should function. The refusal to consider a Supreme Court nominee for strictly partisan purposes is not simply a tool to score cheap political points; it is really an attack on our governmental institutions themselves. Regardless of what one feels about DAPA and the decision in United States vs. Texas, this vital concern is worth remembering come election day this November.