Tuesday, 16 July 2024 19:53

GOP judges in the majority on Obama immigration stay

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A federal appeals court panel assigned to consider whether to temporarily lift a block on President Barack Obama's latest round of immigration-related executive actions leans Republican, 2-1, and contains a sharply conservative judge who drew national attention for clashing with the administration over Obama's health care reform law.

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals announced Monday that the three-judge panel scheduled to hear arguments on the Justice Department's request for a stay of an injunction against Obama's immigration actions will consist of Judges Jerry Smith, Jennifer Walker Elrod and Stephen Higginson. Smith was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Elrod by President George W. Bush and Higginson by Obama.

Smith is the best known of the trio. During oral argument on a health care related case in 2012, he ordered a Justice Department lawyer to do what critics described as a homework assignment: produce a three-page paper explaining whether the courts had the authority to determine whether laws were constitutional.

Smith was prompted to give the unusual instructions after Obama said, amidst debate over the constitutionality of his signature health care reform law, that it would be "unprecedented" for the Supreme Court to strike down a law passed by Congress. Obama later clarified his remarks to say he was referring to the modern era and to laws where Congress was claiming power to regulate an economic activity. (The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the individual mandate in the health care law, 5-4.)

The split on the appellate panel is consistent with the overall lean of the 5th Circuit, which is considered the country's most conservative federal appeals court. Its active Republican-appointed judges outnumber Democrats, 2-1.

The panel is set to hear two hours of oral argument Friday morning in New Orleans on the issue of whether to stay a district court judge's injunction from February blocking Obama's efforts to offer deferred deportation and work permits to millions more undocumented immigrants.

The same three judges are unlikely to make the ultimate decision on the legal merits of the lower court judge's ruling. Instead, the current panel is assigned to wrestle with the immediate question of whether the injunction should remain in effect while an expedited appeal goes forward.

Either issue or both could ultimately wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Source: Politico

Google+ Google+