President Obama wanted it to stand as his crowning achievement. Six long years after he promised voters that he would fundamentally change the United States, he took his biggest step in that direction. No, not because his amnesty plan would have given legal status to some 5 million illegal immigrants. That would have been destructive, but it wouldn’t have qualified as fundamental change. The people were, after all, already here.
What was novel about his executive action on immigration was not its effect but its existence. Here was a U.S. president standing before the world to declare that he had the authority to not just disregard congressional law, but to actually make law from the White House. There had been uneasy jokes about “Emperor Obama” before last November, but this was no laughing matter. Was this really possible? Was no one going to stand up and cry foul?
Well, people cried, but that was about it. Salvation was not forthcoming from the spineless Republicans on Capitol Hill, but they have gotten their just desserts for that particular betrayal.
On the other side of the coin, 26 states, led by Texas, decided they would not watch our democracy go up in smoke without one last effort to save it. They filed suit against the Obama administration, citing the overwhelming burdens the order would place on their economies and law enforcement agencies. The administration fiercely defended the actions as “prosecutorial discretion.”
Unfortunately for Obama’s Justice Department, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen wasn’t convinced. He issued an injunction against the order in February, and now the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that injunction in a 2-1 decision.
“President Obama should abandon his lawless executive amnesty program and start enforcing the law today,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Instead of following that wise counsel, the DOJ announced they would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. “The Department of Justice remains committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible in order to allow DHS to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children,” a department spokesman said.
What will the Supreme Court decide? Based on the tenuous connection their recent decisions have had to logic, precedent, or the Constitution, it’s impossible to predict. For now, let’s just take a breath and appreciate the victory. It’s not over yet, but we made it a little harder for a president to push a golden throne into the Oval Office.