HomeCrimeSupreme Court may overturn Fifth Circuit ruling on Texas SB4

Supreme Court may overturn Fifth Circuit ruling on Texas SB4

Left: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts sit for a new group portrait following the addition of Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite). Right: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump talks with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at Shelby Park during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay).

Left: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts sit for a new group portrait following the addition of Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite). Right: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump talks with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at Shelby Park during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay).

The Supreme Court has given the State of Texas until March 11 to respond to the federal government’s request to overturn an appellate court ruling that would allow Texas to put its own immigration policy into effect. Justice Samuel Alito extended the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s stay of its own order until March 13 in response to the Department of Justice’s Monday afternoon filing. The conservative Fifth Circuit vacated a lower court ruling Saturday, sided with Texas to uphold its controversial immigration law, then administratively stayed its order until March 9. Alito issued the solo order Monday evening, because he is the justice assigned to cover emergency filings in the circuit.

The law at issue is Texas S.B. 4, part of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” — a set of anti-immigration laws that included the installation of razor wire and a floating barrier of buoys in the Rio Grande and the addition of thousands of state troopers to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. Arguably the most legally severe portion of Abbott’s initiatives was the authorization for Texas law enforcement to arrest anyone suspected of illegal border crossing and charge them with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, then to prosecute and punish with jail time or return to Mexico.

On Feb. 29, Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra ruled against Texas on the law. Ezra, a Ronald Reagan appointee, said that the law is problematic for a litany of reasons. It violates both the Supremacy Clause and Supreme Court precedent, Ezra said. It also conflicts directly with key provisions of federal immigration law and offends American foreign relations and treaty obligations. Moreover, Ezra said, when the U.S. Constitution afforded states the right to protect themselves from “invasion,” it did not use the term in a way that would include border-crossers, even if the crossing was illegal. More generally, Ezra said, “SB 4 threatens the fundamental notion that the United States must regulate immigration with one voice.”

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