Wall Street Journal (Opinion):
By Jacob Gershman
January 20, 2016
The immigration case that the Supreme Court added to its docket this week is called Texas v. U.S, but the dispute is the latest chapter in a long-running legal drama known as Congress v. Obama.
After the president in November 2014 announced his plan to defer the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, Texas and 25 other largely Republican-led states sued to invalidate it.
Texas claims the “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” program would force it to spend state funds issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants currently ineligible for the documents. But the key question in the case is whether the Obama administration usurped congressional authority by going it alone without explicit authorization from Congress.
Tensions between the executive and legislative branches of government are as old as the Republic. But under the Obama administration, they’ve led to quite a few constitutional showdowns.
Here’s a rundown and status report on the most momentous of these disputes that went to court:
House of Representatives v. Burwell: The Obama administration has defended the constitutionality of Obamacare against an array of challenges. But this case stands out because the plaintiffs are a chamber of Congress. In 2014, the GOP-led House sued the Obama administration over claims that the Obama administration overstepped its bounds in how it’s paying for portions of the health law. Mr. Obama dismissed the lawsuit as a “political stunt,” but has yet to convince a judge that the case should actually be thrown out. In an early ruling, the federal judge presiding over the matter said the House had a core constitutional interest in preserving its power of the purse.
National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning: This separation of powers fight went all the way to the Supreme Court and culminated in a 9-0 ruling against the Obama administration in 2014. The controversy dealt with the president’s power to make “recess appointments” when the Senate is out of town. Affirming Congress’s power over confirmations — specifically appointments made by Mr. Obama to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012. The Constitution grants the president power “to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate,” allowing appointees to serve temporarily without confirmation. Justices ruled that such authority doesn’t give the president license to “routinely…avoid the need for Senate confirmation.”
Zivotofsky v. Kerry: The Supreme Court’s decision in this case — dealing with a president’s power over foreign relations — was a clean win for Obama. The high court last year struck down a federal statute that lets Americans citizens born in Jerusalem list “Israel” as their birthplace on their U.S. passports. The Constitution divides foreign-affairs powers between Congress and the president, but by a 6-3 vote, the court ruled that in this case, Congress stepped into executive territory. The law, the justices said, ran contrary to the State Department’s long-standing practice of using “Jerusalem” in such situations.
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform v. Lynch: In this dispute, lawmakers accuse the president of obstructing — not usurping — their legislative authority. The House oversight committee sued to get access to internal Justice Department documents about the troubled “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking operation. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration must turn over thousands of “Fast and Furious” documents, rejecting White House claims that the papers were shielded by executive privilege.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com