The president has been anxiously awaiting the death of just one more justice before he leaves office, knowing full well that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gleefully stole President Barack Obama’s third justice. Yet, it was Obama’s appointment of the third woman and first Latina justice to the Supreme Court who made news Thursday.
Justice Sonja Sotomayor wrote the court’s 5-4 dissent granting the government’s “public charge” rule to take place in all 50 states. The rule makes life far more difficult for immigrants to get their legal status should they have ever used a government benefits such as food stamps.
She was the only one who came down hard on this point when she wrote, according to The Mother Jones publication:
‘Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases. It is hard to say what is more troubling [and that] that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.’
She pointed out that SCOTUS only ruled on one state and claimed the court was lowering its standards. The court ruled that the “public charge” rule would affect all but one state — Illinois. That state fell under “a separate judicial order.” When the White House asked the court to free the Illinois order, it did.
The public charge rule will kick into effect on Monday. White House attorneys wrote:
‘This final rule will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the Federal deficit, and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess(e) of United States taxpayers.’
Sotomayor addressed a “now-familiar pattern:”
‘The government seeks emergency relief from this Court [after lower courts will not do so, and] as been all too quick to grant the government’s reflexive requests. Make no mistake, this Court is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process.’
She continued saying that “the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life:”
‘The Court often permits executions—where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life—to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures to ‘raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner. I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect.’
CNN Contributor Professor Steve Vladeck has studied the issue of emergency requests. He noted that noted Solicitor General Noel Francisco “short-circuited” the regular process as per The Harvard Law Review. Vladeck said:
‘[H]e has done so far more often than his predecessors. This is now the 24th time that the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to put a lower court decision on hold in less than three years compared to a total of eight such requests during the 16 years of the George W. Bush and Obama administration’s combined. As in this case, the justices have often agreed to these requests even when the lower court ruling, as in the most recent case, had only a local impact.’
The conservative Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote on the important DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program) case. Frequently described as the dreamers, Obama’s program protected children of their illegally-entering parents. It ensured them freedom from ICE raids and deportation. Plus, it gave them the opportunity to go to college and obtain jobs. This was a day of celebration.
Still, Chief Justice John Roberts was not perfect according to Justice Sotomayor. She wrote in her concurrence (agreement) that he was far too easy on Trump. She pointed to Donald Trump’s “vicious” history and racist comments that added a “vital legal context.”
She pointed out that Roberts should never have discounted the president’s racist comments about Mexican immigrants.” Former Justice Department Civil Rights Official Sam Bagenstos said:
‘I thought I could not love Justice Sotomayor any more than I did already, Then I read her DACA concurrence.’
‘[P]rematurely disposes of respondents’ equal protection claims by overlooking the strength of their complaints.’
She said that Roberts should not have discounted all the many slurs the president had spoken about Mexican immigrants, such as calling them “people who have lots of problems,” “the bad ones,” “criminals, drug dealers, [and] rapists.” She condemned POTUS for comparing undocumented immigrants to “animals.” Sotomayor continued:
‘Taken together, “the words of the President” help to “create the strong perception” that the rescission decision was “contaminated by impermissible discriminatory animus.”’
In addition, the justice derided Chief Justice Roberts for making little of the massive impact of killing off DACA on Latinos:
‘I would not so readily dismiss the allegation that an executive decision disproportionately harms the same racial group that the President branded as less desirable mere months earlier.’
Next, she wrote that Roberts should not have dismissed “the idea that DHS’s handling of the DACA recision raised red flags:”
‘As late as June 2017, DHS insisted it remained committed to DACA… But a mere three months later, DHS terminated DACA without, as the plurality acknowledges, considering important aspects of the termination. The abrupt change in position plausibly suggests that something other than questions about the legality of DACA motivated the rescission decision. Accordingly, it raises the possibility of a “significant mismatch between the decision…made and the rationale…provided.’
Earlier, MSNBC Legal Analyst and Georgetown University professor Neal Katyal said that losing before the Supreme Court was like failing a class at Yale University. Who knew? Sotomayor feared Roberts would only protect Dreamers at this time. She said that those who come from Mexico could not be pulled apart from Trump’s attitude toward them.
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.