In a surprising move on Thursday, the Supreme court handed down a 5-4 decision that protected the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Also known as DACA, this program protects the children of immigrants to the US.
Many court scholars expected the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to turn in a 5-4 decision that authorized the federal government’s defunding of the program.
However, in the swing vote, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the “liberal wing” of the court. In his majority opinion, Roberts writes that the court found the federal government didn’t justify its decision to pull down DACA.
Roberts noted that the move ran afoul of laws demarking how the federal government can defund programs.
Court Defends DACA
By defending DACA, the Supreme Court deals a blow to the Trump Administration’s immigration focus. While campaigning, Trump made a point to focus on his promised border wall between the US and Mexico.
He has doubled down in the past on the image of Spanish-speaking immigrants as a “criminal element,” much to the dismay of civil rights groups in the US.
By siding with the liberal wing of the court, Roberts solidifies a week of Supreme Court decisions that have thumped the White House. On Monday, the Court ruled in a 6-3 decision in favor of protections for LGBT workers. One of the defendants in the Civil Rights case was the Trump Administration. This series of repudiations has seemingly angered the president.
Move Draws Conservative Criticism
The move drew swift criticism from the White House on Thursday. On Twitter, Trump fire off a barrage of incensed messages about the Supreme Court. One read “These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”
Throughout the day Thursday, Trump doubled down on his insistence that more conservative justices were needed. His administration has been focused on the courts in particular. His first nominee to the court, Neil Gorsuch, was controversial due to the prior administration’s pick, Merrick Garland, being denied a Senate hearing for months.
Trump’s second nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was even more controversial. Alleged sexual harassment of his former classmate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford led to scathing indictments of Kavanaugh in the press. Democrats largely viewed his confirmation to the court as a conservative repudiation of the “Me Too” movement.