Back in May, the two judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals against Obama’s executive actions denied a request from the Obama administration for an emergency stay of the injunction blocking the president’s immigration proposals. Back then the judges wrote, “Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of the appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction.” So when last week the same two judges ruled that the president could not move forward with his plan to provide 4 million undocumented immigrants with deportation relief and work permits, it really was not a surprise at all.
These two judges forming the Fifth Circuit Majority also apparently tried to “slow walk” the decision, trying to run down the clock, taking as long as possible to issue their ruling in the hopes that Obama would not have enough time in office to appeal their decision to the Supreme Court. The website for the Fifth Circuit states that, “the court’s goal is to issue an opinion generally within 60 days after the argument or submission.” Seeing how final arguments were heard July 10th and this was a case in which the court agreed to fast-track the appeal, it seems clear a politically motivated stall tactic was put in place by the 5th circuit majority. The panel’s dissenting judge, Carolyn King, noted “the extended delay that has occurred in deciding this ‘expedited’ appeal.” She added that there was “no justification” for such a delay.
Despite the delay tactics, there will still be time for this case to move to the Supreme Court within Obama’s remaining term. The Obama administration has already announced that it will ask the high court to rule on the president’s plan by next year. Many immigration advocates feel that chances are good the Supreme Court will reverse the Fifth Circuit’s ruling. Dissenting Judge King noted that if the current ruling were to be upheld, it would allow nearly unlimited intrusion by the states into federal law, a potentially destructive outcome. Its also worth noting that U.S. presidents have been taking executive action on immigration as far back as Eisenhower. And the Supreme Court has consistently upheld federal authority over immigration matters, most recently in United States v. Arizona (2012).