U.S. Supreme Court’s next major decision has Joe Biden on pins and needles

The Biden administration is intoxicated with power. But they’re about to learn a stark lesson.

Because the U.S. Supreme Court’s next big decision has President Biden on pins and needles.

The Biden administration is actively challenging Republican-led states over their immigration laws, arguing these measures are unconstitutional as they encroach on federal authority. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed lawsuits against Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma for enacting laws that empower local police to enforce immigration rules. These states claim they are responding to an unprecedented border crisis, accusing the federal government of failing to enforce immigration laws adequately.

Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma have each passed legislation that makes it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant. Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4), Iowa Senate File 2340, and Oklahoma House Bill 4156 grant law enforcement the authority to arrest illegal immigrants and impose penalties for unlawful presence.

These measures reflect the states’ attempts to protect themselves, as explained by Matt Crapo, a senior attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). “Due to the abdication of this administration’s duty to enforce the law, states are trying to protect themselves,” Crapo shared with reporters. “They are trying to do so by mirroring federal law, enforcing the same type of laws if this administration was enforcing the law.”

The Biden administration contends that these state laws are unconstitutional, asserting that immigration enforcement is a federal prerogative. The legality of these state measures may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, with Texas’s SB4 likely to be the first to reach the nation’s highest court.

IRLI has filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting Texas SB4. Crapo mentioned that his organization plans to file similar briefs for the Iowa and Oklahoma laws once those states challenge the preliminary injunctions imposed by federal courts. The brief argues that SB4 “parallels” federal immigration laws without interfering with federal authority over immigration.

However, not all legal experts agree with this interpretation. “SB4 is cruel, inhumane, and clearly unconstitutional,” Kate Melloy Goettel, senior legal director at the American Immigration Council, stated in March.

“All these bills could result in significant civil rights abuses, leading to widespread arrests and deportations by state actors without key federal protections.” Goettel expressed hope that SB4 would be blocked in court to prevent setting a “disastrous precedent.”

The outcome of these legal battles remains uncertain. Art Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies highlighted the unique aspects of the Texas case compared to a 2010 Arizona law that was largely struck down by the Supreme Court. “It’s sort of an open question as to whether the Supreme Court is going to allow Texas to criminalize illegal entry into Texas,” Arthur noted, emphasizing Texas’ argument that trespassing is fundamentally a state crime.

Arthur also pointed out that Texas’ legislation is different from the Iowa and Oklahoma laws, which could lead to varied judicial outcomes. He suggested that the Supreme Court’s decision on SB4 would provide significant insight into the viability of other state laws. According to Arthur, the passage of these state laws reflects genuine concerns rather than political maneuvers, underscoring a perceived failure by the Biden administration to enforce immigration laws.

“Texas’ argument is ‘look, the federal government doesn’t completely occupy the field with respect to this crime because trespassing is an essential state crime and this is basically a trespassing offense,’” Art Arthur shared with reporters.

Illegal immigration has surged to historic levels, with Border Patrol agents reporting over 1,171,000 encounters with illegal immigrants this fiscal year alone. Since President Joe Biden took office, there have been more than six million such encounters. High-profile crimes committed by illegal immigrants, such as the killing of a Georgia nursing student and the attempted breach of the Quantico Marine Base, have further intensified the debate.

Amid these challenges, Republican state leaders feel compelled to take action. Louisiana state senator Valarie Hodges, sponsor of Senate Bill 388, which would make illegal entry a state crime, stated, “The Biden administration refuses to do their job, so we need to do it.” Her bill proposes penalties of up to one year in prison and a $4,000 fine for the first offense, and up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine for a second offense.

Despite the prospect of legal challenges, Hodges remains resolute. “When the federal government won’t do their job, what course do we have? We’re going to collapse if we don’t do something. I believe we are within our constitutional boundaries to do this.” She added, “Maybe we should sue them for not doing their job.”

The ongoing legal battles between the Biden administration and Republican-led states over immigration enforcement laws reflect a deep divide over how best to address the crisis at the U.S. border. The Supreme Court’s eventual rulings on these cases will have far-reaching implications for the balance of power between federal and state authorities in immigration enforcement.

So even if Joe Biden is somehow able to hold on to his position in the Oval Office for a second term, he could be looking at starting off with a huge policy loss should the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court bench rule his harassment of Republican states to be unconstitutional.

Stay tuned to the DC Daily Journal.

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