Tag Archives: supreme court

The Supreme Court After Scalia

During its last session, the most important issue facing the Supreme Court was not one of the cases, but the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Supreme Court After Scalia


Photo by Steve Petteway, photographer, Supreme Court of the United States – Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, Scalia “was described as the intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court’s conservative wing.”

During his 30 year tenure, he was called upon to rule on a wide range of issues, including:

  • Separation of Powers
  • Detainees
  • Federalism
  • Abortion
  • Criminal Law
  • Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

His passing leaves the Court split four-to-four along liberal/conservative lines. Not surprisingly, several cases brought before the Court during this session resulted in a tie vote. Some of these may again be presented when Scalia’s position is filled; probably not until after the presidential election in November.

The Court was, however, able to rule on several important cases, which we’ll discuss in future posts.

Click here for more information on these cases.


Supreme Court Appears Divided on Immigration

United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, now before the Supreme Court, concerns Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, which was introduced by the Obama administration in November 2014.

DAPA, if implemented, would allow some four million unauthorized immigrants, who are the parents of citizens or legal permanent residents, to apply for a program that would defer their deportation and allow them to apply for work permits.

Texas and 25 other states have filed suit, claiming that the president has exceeded his authority by proposing this program.

Supreme Court Appears Divided on Immigration

As is often the case, the arguments before the court are based not so much on the moral and ethical questions tied to immigration, but on a legal issue: standing to sue.

Standing to sue requires that the plaintiffs in a case would suffer some substantive injury. In this case, Texas claims that it would be prohibitively expensive to issue drivers’ licenses to the immigrants.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., presenting the administration’s case, argued that Texas had not – or would not – suffer the kind of injury that would give it standing to sue. Justice Sotomayor also questioned the idea that DAPA created a real, financial burden, asking:

Why can’t you just let people wait on line?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s line of questioning suggested he might side with the more conservative members of the court, upholding the plaintiffs’ claim of standing to sue.

A four-to-four decision would leave in place a lower court decision blocking the plan, effectively preventing President Obama from reintroducing DAPA during the remainder of his term. It would also set no Supreme Court precedent, thus allowing for a challenge at some later date, presumably after the appointment of a new Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.

Click here to read the New York Times article.