A closely divided Supreme Court seemed inclined to uphold President Donald Trump’s bid to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program during arguments Tuesday morning.
The high court’s conservative majority appeared to think the administration has provided an adequate basis for ending the policy, and in spaces even wondered if the courts had power to review the dispute.
Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the high court in 2016 affirmed a decision of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that blocked an Obama-era amnesty program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). The 5th Circuit’s ruling and the Supreme Court’s subsequent affirmance provide a sufficient rationale for ending DACA, which is largely similar to DAPA, Roberts suggested.
Apart from concerns about DACA’s legality, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified independent policy reasons for ending the program. He repeatedly challenged lawyers representing left-leaning states and civil rights groups to identify what more the government should have done.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke set a timeline for DACA’s termination in September 2017. In a memo explaining her decision, Duke said then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the DHS that the program is unlawful. She further noted that a coalition of states was threatening to sue the federal government over DACA in view of the 5th Circuit’s DAPA decision.