President Donald Trump erupted in fury Thursday after the Supreme Court dealt yet another blow to his efforts to undo Obama administration policies through regulation – comparing the rulings to ‘shotgun blasts’ at conservatives.
The president used the charged language after the court ruled 5-4 that his administration’s justification for ending the DACA program for immigrants was ‘arbitrary and capricious.’
He made repeat references to his own reelection and demanded ‘NEW JUSTICES’ on the court, where conservatives hold a 5-4 majority but where Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberals to thwart the administration’s action.
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Trump’s effort to end legal protections for 650,000 young immigrants, a stunning rebuke to the president in the midst of his reelection campaign.
The outcome seems certain to elevate the issue in Trump’s campaign, given the anti-immigrant rhetoric of his first presidential run in 2016 and immigration restrictions his administration has imposed since then.
Trump immediately cast the defeat in personal terms.
‘Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?’ the president asked his Twitter followers.
Trump also made a pitch for his reelection and trying to reshape the court. ‘These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!’ he wrote.
So little winning: Donald Trump has now lost two Supreme Court rulings in a week, with DACA coming after gay rights
Majority ruling: Chief Justice John Roberts (front, center) wrote the ruling that Trump cannot end DACA and was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg (front, second from right), Stephen Breyer (front, left), Sonia Sotomayor (back row, second from left) and Elena Kagan (back row, second from right). The four conservative justices dissented: Clarence Thomas (front, second from left), Samuel Alito (front, right), Neil Gorsuch (rear, left) and Brett Kavanaugh (rear, right)
Celebrations: Immigration activists headed for the steps of the Supreme Court for the ruling and celebrated the decision which ends the immediate threat to their presence in the U.S.
Trump responded to the ruling in personal terms
Trump called a spate of rulings against him ‘shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans and Conservatives’
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: Trump said he would ‘start this process all over again’ after a years-long court fight
Barack Obama weighed in tweeting with a more explicitly political statement than he usually makes, directly linking the Trump defeat to a call to elect Joe Biden.
‘Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation. Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us.
‘We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideal and now to stand up for those ideals, we have to move forward and elect Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress that does its job, protects DREAMers, and finally creates a system that’s truly worthy of this nation of immigrants once and for all.’
Trump rival former Vice President Joe Biden, who was in office when the Obama administration instituted the protections after the failure of immigration legislation, celebrated the ruling.
‘The Supreme Court’s ruling today is a victory made possible by the courage and resilience of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who bravely stood up and refused to be ignored. And as President, I will get to work immediately to make it permanent,’ Biden said.
The justices rejected administration arguments that the 8-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program is illegal and that courts have no role to play in reviewing the decision to end DACA.
The president weighed in later Thursday and announced his intention to publish a list of conservative justices he would choose from in the event of a vacancy.
‘I will be releasing a new list of Conservative Supreme Court Justice nominees, which may include some, or many of those already on the list, by September 1, 2020. If given the opportunity, I will only choose from this list, as in the past, a Conservative Supreme Court Justice… Based on decisions being rendered now, this list is more important than ever before (Second Amendment, Right to Life, Religous Liberty, etc.) – VOTE 2020!’ Trump wrote.
He also indicated he was not backing way from policy-making.
‘As President of the United States, I am asking for a legal solution on DACA, not a political one, consistent with the rule of law. The Supreme Court is not willing to give us one, so now we have to start this process all over again,’ he wrote.
In another tweet, he added: ‘The DACA decision, while a highly political one, and seemingly not based on the law, gives the President of the United States far more power than EVER anticipated. Nevertheless, I will only act in the best interests of the United States of America!’
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that the administration did not pursue the end of the program properly. The ruling was 5-4.
It is the second loss in a week coming after the 6-3 ruling written by Neil Gorsuch that gay and transgender people are protected from being fired by federal civil rights legislation.
In another setback, the court decided not to take up a case a Trump Administration case challenging California’s ‘sanctuary city’ law.
Roberts was joined Thursday by the liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Steven Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, although Sotomayor did not join the opinion in full.
‘We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,’ Roberts wrote.
‘We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.
‘Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients.’
The Department of Homeland Security can try again, he wrote.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer delivered an emotional Senate floor speech in response. He said he had cried ‘tears of joy a few minutes ago’ when he heard the decision before he took to the well of the chamber.
‘This is a wonderful, wonderful day,’ Schumer said, ‘for the DACA kids, for their families, and for the American Dream.
‘Wow! What a decision. And let me say this. In these very difficult times, the Supreme Court provided a bright ray of sunshine this week, with the decision on Monday preventing discrimination in employment against the LGBTQ community and now with this DACA decision.’
‘It gives you some faith that the laws, rules and mores of this country can be upheld. Wow, this decision’s amazing!’ he said. ‘I am so happy for these kids, their families. I feel for them, and I think all of America does,’ said Schumer.
The conservative wing of the court – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – dissented.
Thomas, in a dissent joined by Alito and Gorsuch, wrote that DACA was illegal from the moment it was created under the Obama administration in 2012.
‘Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,’ Thomas wrote.
Kavanaugh wrote in a separate dissent that he was satisfied that the administration acted appropriately in trying to end the program.
DACA recipients were elated by the ruling.
‘We’ll keep living our lives in the meantime,’ said Cesar Espinosa, a DACA recipient who leads the Houston immigration advocacy group FIEL. ‘We´re going to continue to work, continue to advocate.’
Espinosa said he got little sleep overnight in anticipation of a possible decision Thursday. In the minutes since the decision was posted, he said his group has been ‘flooded with calls with Dreamers, happy, with that hope that they’re going to at least be in this country for a while longer.’
DACA covers people who have been in the United States since they were children and are in the country illegally. In some cases, they have no memory of any home other than the U.S.
The program grew out of an impasse over a comprehensive immigration bill between Congress and the Obama administration in 2012. President Barack Obama decided to formally protect people from deportation while also allowing them to work legally in the U.S.
But Trump made tough talk on immigration a central part of his campaign and less than eight months after taking office, he announced in September 2017 that he would end DACA.
Immigrants, civil rights groups, universities and Democratic-led states quickly sued, and courts put the administration’s plan on hold.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called it a ‘ray of sunshine’
DACA recipients and their supporters take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, chanting ‘Say their Names’ and the names of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, as they celebrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the court ruled in a 5-4 vote that U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2017 move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, was unlawful, in Washington, U.S. June 18, 2020.
The Department of Homeland Security has continued to process two-year DACA renewals so that hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have protections stretching beyond the election and even into 2022.
The Supreme Court fight over DACA played out in a kind of legal slow motion. The administration first wanted the justices to hear and decide the case by June 2018. The justices said no.
The Justice Department returned to the court later in 2018, but the justices did nothing for more than seven months before agreeing a year ago to hear arguments. Those took place in November and more than seven months elapsed before the court´s decision.
Thursday’s ruling was the second time in two years that Roberts and the liberal justices faulted the administration for the way it went about a policy change. Last year, the court forced the administration to back off a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
The court’s ruling came on technical grounds, in which the majority acknowledged the administration had the right to end the DACA policy but skewered the administration for how it came about.
‘Whether DACA is illegal is, of course, a legal determination, and therefore a question for the Attorney General. But deciding how best to address a finding of illegality moving forward can involve important policy choices, especially when the finding concerns a program with the breadth of DACA. Those policy choices are for DHS,’ the majority wrote.
It was highly critical of the initial DHS memo justifying the policy authored by former acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke, who stepped into her role when Trump named John Kelly as White House chief of staff.
‘We turn, finally, to whether DHS’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious. As noted earlier, Acting Secretary Duke’s justification for the rescission was succinct: ‘Taking into consideration’ the Fifth Circuit’s conclusion that DAPA was unlawful because it conferred benefits in violation of the INA, and the Attorney General’s conclusion that DACA was unlawful for the same reason, she concluded—without elaboration—that the ‘DACA program should be terminated,’ The Court noted.
The memo announcing the policy change ‘contains no discussion of forbearance or the option of retaining forbearance without benefits. Duke ‘entirely failed to consider [that] important aspect of the problem,’ according to the ruling.
‘That omission alone renders Acting Secretary Duke’s decision arbitrary and capricious.’
It faults her for failing to consider the real-world impacts of the ruling on DACA recipients, who are serving in the workforce, in the military, and attending school.
‘Had Duke considered reliance interests, she might, for example, have considered a broader renewal period based on the need for DACA recipients to reorder their affairs. Alternatively, Duke might have considered more accommodating termination dates for recipients caught in the middle of a time-bounded commitment, to allow them to, say, graduate from their course of study, complete their military service, or finish a medical treatment regimen,’ the majority wrote.
‘Or she might have instructed immigration officials to give salient weight to any reliance interests engendered by DACA when exercising individualized enforcement discretion. To be clear, DHS was not required to do any of this or to ‘consider all policy alternatives in reaching [its] decision,’ according to the court.
But it ‘was required to assess whether there were reliance interests, determine whether they were significant.’
Republicans target John Roberts after two defeats in a row leaves Trump seething
In two major decisions this week on LGBT rights and immigration, the conservative-leaning Supreme Court handed President Donald Trump somewhat surprising defeats.
‘Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?’ Trump tweeted shortly after the court ruled Thursday that his administration hadn’t acted properly in ending the 8-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects some 650,000 young immigrants from deportation.
Trump was plowing familiar ground, turning a court decision with which he disagreed into a personal rebuke. For Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the court´s liberals in ruling against Trump in both cases, the outcomes and the conservative outcry that accompanied them may help insulate the court from accusations typically made from the left that the highest court in the land is reflexively friendly to partisan Republican and ideologically conservative interests.
Further countering that perception: One of the justices ruling against Trump on Monday was one of his two appointees.
Over Trump’s 3 1/2 years in office, Roberts has been both a vote for the administration and against it, his votes often decisive on a court with four more liberal justices and four more conservative. Those votes have helped him underscore his frequently repeated mantra that the judiciary is different from and independent of the political branches of government.
No one would mistake Roberts for a liberal in nearly 15 years as chief justice, nominated by Republican President George W. Bush. But since his vote in 2012 to uphold the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, Roberts has injected at least a bit of doubt about where he will come down in some cases.
In 2018, Roberts and the court’s conservatives upheld the president’s travel ban. Last year, his vote with the court’s liberals kept the administration from putting a controversial citizenship question on the 2020 census.
No soulmates: John Roberts has had 15 years at the helm of the Supreme Court, under George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump and is now ‘a moderate at best’ according to Curt Levey, who heads the conservative Committee for Justice
If the president is steaming at the court’s decisions this week, however, he may still in short order be singing the justices’ praises. The court has a series of high-profile decisions important to the president left to release before the justices go on their summer break. They include fights over the president’s tax returns, abortion, the president’s power to fire the head of an independent agency and Trump administration changes to the Affordable Care Act. Some or all of them could still be big wins.
For now, though, the president is voicing his displeasure with Roberts and the court, suggesting he will once again make the high court a campaign issue.
‘These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!’ he tweeted Thursday.
Other Republicans directly criticized Roberts. Texas Sen. Ten Cruz accused him of ‘playing games with the court to achieve the policy outcomes he desires,’ and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement: ‘If the Chief Justice believes his political judgment is so exquisite, I invite him to resign, travel to Iowa, and get elected. I suspect voters will find his strange views no more compelling than do the principled justices on the Court.’
During the 2016 election, Trump told Republican voters that, even if they didn’t like him personally, they should vote for him to ensure conservative appointments to the court. His two nominees, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, have generally been reliably conservative votes.
But the two Trump nominees wound up on opposite sides of Monday’s 6-3 opinion that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. Gorsuch wrote the decision for himself, Roberts and the court’s liberals.
Roberts, for his part, has tried to emphasize that the justices are not ‘politicians in robes’ and that they are different from the lawmakers in the U.S. Capitol across the street from the Supreme Court.
After Trump in 2018 went after a judge who ruled against his migrant asylum order, calling him an ‘Obama judge,’ Roberts issued an extraordinary statement rebuking the president.
‘We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them,’ Roberts said in response to an inquiry from The Associated Press.
Elizabeth Wydra, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center, said Roberts’ votes this week shouldn’t be seen as a shift.
‘We aren’t seeing the emergence of Chief Justice John Roberts as a liberal,’ Wydra said.
The Trump administration’s actions have been so ‘repeatedly outlandish’ that Roberts ‘frankly has no choice but to call them out on it,’ she said. Roberts sees himself as a ‘steward for the institutional integrity of the court’ and ‘he can’t really in good faith protect the integrity of court without ruling against Trump from time to time,’ she said.
Even when Roberts has ruled against the administration, however, he has in some sense not gone very far. On Thursday, for example, the court ruled not that the Trump administration couldn’t end DACA but simply that they’d gone about doing so in an improper way. The ruling in the 2019 census case was similar.
Curt Levey, who heads the conservative Committee for Justice, said Monday’s decision in the LGBT case firmly establishes Roberts as ‘a moderate at best.’ One silver lining of the fact that both Gorsuch and Roberts joined the liberals, he said, is that it works against Democrats who might in the future claim ‘this is a right-wing court.’