WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – The Supreme Court decided two controversial cases Thursday morning: immigration and affirmative action.
The Court dealt a significant blow to the president and his plan to prevent four million undocumented immigrants from potential deportation. His plan, announced in 2014, would have allowed some undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the United States for three years. The state of Texas blocked the president’s executive action and challenged the president’s ability to make this kind of decision.
"For more than two decades now our immigration system everybody acknowledges has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn't able to issue a decision today doesn't just set the system back further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be," President Obama said.
The president, along with many democrats, blame the 4-4 split on the vacant seat left in February by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland shortly after Scalia’s death, but Senate Republicans have failed to grant Garland the hearings needed to be confirmed. A split such as this one honors the lower court’s ruling, which in this case supported the state of Texas.
Republicans have called the president’s executive actions overreaching and even illegal.
"This is a win for the Constitution. It's a win for Congress and it's a win in our fight to restore the separation of powers,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “Presidents doesn't write laws, the Congress writes law."
The Obama Administration asked the high Court to hear the case before November’s presidential election. The Administration was looking for validation on their plan to begin implementing it before a new president is inaugurated.
Now, the futures of at least 4 million undocumented immigrants are up in the air.
“The policy is on hold for now and depending who wins the election in November it could be on hold indefinitely,” said Amy Howe, co-founder of SCOTUS Blog. “This decision takes away the safety net that a lot of undocumented immigrants were hoping for. “
The Court also ruled in favor of affirmative action supporters. The case, Fisher vs. Texas, has been in and out of the high court over the last few years. Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas after she was denied admission to the school. Fisher says it’s because she is white and the university should not take race into account during their admissions process.
“The university has been arguing that it needs to be able to consider race to fill the remaining slots in its freshman class to have a truly diverse student body,” said Howe.
The ruling, in favor of the University of Texas, says it is constitutional to use race as a factor when considering applicants for admission.
The Court will begin recess at the end of the month, but still has a handful of decisions to hand down before they break.