WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Republican leaders rejoiced on Tuesday as the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will consider the case against President Obama’s executive action to shield 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation.
“Pres. Obama’s executive amnesty is unconstitutional. I hope #SCOTUS upholds the 5th Circuit’s decision,” tweeted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), running third in the GOP 2016 primary, said he’s “confident SCOTUS will agree Obama executive orders are unconstitutional.”
President’s Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), would allow illegal immigrants in those categories to remain in the country and apply for work permits if they have been here for at least five years and have not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors,” explained the Washington Post.
But that could soon come to a permanent end.
Texas and 25 other states sued the government, arguing that Obama acted outside of his executive authority and placed an unfair economic burden on states by forcing them to spend funds on services like printing identification cards for people who are barred from legally obtaining them.
Federal judges have been sympathetic to the 26 states, agreeing that Obama overstepped his executive authority.
The White House tried to paint a rosy portrait on Tuesday, focusing on the fact that SCOTUS’ move means lower courts’ rulings against DAPA could be overruled.
“[DAPA is] consistent with the actions taken by presidents of both parties, the laws passed by Congress, and the decisions of the Supreme Court. We are confident that the policies will be upheld as lawful,” White House assistant press secretary Brandi Hoffine told reporters, according to the Washington Post.
Democratic 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton hit a similar note, tweeting, “POTUS’ actions should be upheld…”
Now, it’s up to SCOTUS, which the Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin called the “Hammer of the Gods.”
The high court is split straight down the middle, ideologically, with four justices leaning to the right (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito) and four leaning left (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan).
Deciding this case, in all likelihood, will be the opinion of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The wildcard justice, appointed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan, has taken over the pivotal role of tiebreaker following Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement, often siding with conservative-tilting colleagues.
However, Kennedy joined the court’s liberal wing to rule in favor of marriage equality in 2015.
The outcome is anyone’s guess, but Tuesday’s decision will undoubtedly animate 2016 candidates and voters, who care passionately about immigration issues.
SCOTUS experts predict justices will hear United States v. Texas in April, and likely hand down a ruling in June.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales