Justices Seem Ready To Curb Green Card Applications | SCOTUS Passed On Second Amendment Cases Challenging Gun Ownership Ban
April 20, 2021
RED LIGHT FOR GREEN CARDS|
The Supreme Court heard arguments by phone yesterday for a case that could affect tens of thousands of immigrants. The case stems from the experience of a married El Salvadoran couple — JOSE SANCHEZ and SONIA GONZALEZ — who entered the U.S. unlawfully in the 1990s. But in 2001, El Salvador experienced devastating earthquakes and so the U.S. provided “temporary protected status” to immigrants from there. The couple was granted protection under the program. But when they applied for permanent residency years later, their application was denied. Adam Liptak with The New York Times reports the justices yesterday seemed ready to rule immigrants allowed to stay in the U.S. temporarily for humanitarian reasons may not apply for green cards if they entered the country illegally.
YOU SANDBAGGING ME?|
Greg Stohr with Bloomberg also notes the Supreme Court yesterday appeared ready to bar green card applications from people who entered the country illegally before securing temporary protected status. The case was also a tricky one for the Biden administration which inherited the case from the Trump administration. The Biden administration says it’s defending what was previously a 30-year government practice before it was formalized under Trump. But Stohr says some of the court’s conservative justices “wondered why the Biden team wasn’t being more forceful in its arguments.” CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS at one point told a Justice Department lawyer during yesterday’s teleconference, “I was struck by the extent to which your brief undersold your position.”
IT'S OVER, IT'S OVER|
SCOTUS yesterday once again declined to take up a Republican-led challenge to the 2020 elections, refusing to take a case involving Pennsylvania changing its election rules to deal with the pandemic. PA Republicans were arguing the secretary of state had no authority to extend the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots. But the Supreme Court has consistently declined to take up post-election challenges and denied this one too with no explanation.
DODGED A BULLET|
Also yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to take up three challenges to a federal ban on gun ownership for people convicted of nonviolent crimes. By passing up the chance to weigh in, SCOTUS leaves in place a series of lower court rulings that prohibit people convicted of driving under the influence, making false statements on tax returns, and selling counterfeit cassette tapes from owning a gun. These decisions were also handed down without explanation. ADAM SKAGGS with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence told John Fritze with USA Today, “If nothing else is clear from today’s decision, the court signaled that it’s not making a 180-degree turn where it’s going to take every gun case and rule for the gun lobby in every case.” But Skaggs also noted that some of the other appeals the court is considering could be “much more significant developments” than what the justices did on Monday.
PAY UP PAL|
Lawrence Hurley with Reuters reports the Supreme Court Monday heard almost two hours of arguments in a case in which tribal groups are fighting over $8 billion in funding intended for tribal governments under the CARES Act. Hurley writes, “About $533 million of that aid hinges on the case’s outcome. Three groups of Native American tribes from other parts of the United States sued in federal court in Washington in April 2020 seeking to prevent what are known as Alaska Native corporations from receiving any of the funds. Among the challengers are the Navajo Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The justices indicated support for the Native Alaskan corporations and the federal government, which both argued that the corporations can receive the funding.”
NO DRAMA MAMA|
Michael Albertus and Guy Grossman argue in The Washington Post that if PRESIDENT BIDEN expanded the court, there would probably be more yawns than bursts of outrage. “Our research, published at the Journal of Democracy, finds a majority of Americans would not oppose a court expansion scheme like the one PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT proposed but failed to enact. Indeed, a noteworthy minority would actively support it.” Their research also found that few respondents would punish a president for reshaping the court for partisan ends. “This finding is [consistent] with past research that shows many American voters support empowering popularly elected officials, even at the expense of checks and balances and other features of liberal democracy.”
STAN FOR SONIA|
“In recent years, Sotomayor has emerged not only as the conscience of the court but as the watchdog of its docket. She continually writes separate opinions to flag cases involving extreme cruelty, lawlessness, and other inequities. Her goal appears to be to urge the public to pay attention to the injustices that the Supreme Court lets stand.” That’s Mark Joseph Stern with Slate reviewing JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR’S ongoing efforts to give voice to the voiceless, including two opinions she just handed down attempting to draw awareness to what she sees as unconstitutional abuses — even if her colleagues weren’t interested in taking them on.
“If there is a perception that the Supreme Court is politicized and illegitimate, the solution is not adding more justices. The solution is to stop asking the justices to twist the Constitution and laws to satisfy partisan yearnings. In short, we should ask judges to be judges and politicians to stop politicizing the courts.”NBC THINK
“The court expansion bill is unlikely to pass because Democrats seem to lack the votes in the Senate, especially as long as the filibuster remains intact for legislation. But it could still influence the court’s decisions. Roberts is already widely regarded as a strategic voter who sometimes sides with the liberal bloc to protect the Supreme Court as an institution. Will he do so more frequently to avoid expansion?”The Hill
“The Supreme Court has just created an aristocracy of the religious, who now can plausibly demand the right to defy almost any law. The court has sometimes been willing to accommodate conscientious objectors, but its earlier decisions were nothing like what it has now done. By the court’s logic, human sacrifice now presents a hard case, with a colorable argument for its protection.”
OTHER NEWSThe Guardian
“Joe Biden’s promise to nominate an African American woman to the supreme court for the first time holds broad symbolic significance for Darlene McDonald, an activist and police reform commissioner in Salt Lake City, Utah. But McDonald has specific reasons for wanting a Black woman on the court, too. When Chief Justice John Roberts asserted in 2013 that federal oversight of voting in certain southern states was no longer needed because ‘things have changed dramatically’ since the civil rights era, McDonald said, he revealed a blindness to something African American women have no choice but to see.”NPR
“First Amendment groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make public major decisions authorizing government surveillance, opinions that until now have remained almost secret. For years, the ACLU and other groups have maintained that the public has a First Amendment right to see major decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, decisions that authorize everything from surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists to metadata mining aimed at ferreting out potential terrorist plots, including those that involve contacts between foreigners and American citizens. But the FISC and its supervisory appeals panel ultimately ruled against any public access. Now a coalition of First Amendment groups is asking the Supreme Court to review those decisions of the intelligence courts.”