Time: 6:19 p.m. CEST
Supreme Court’s justices questioned a lawyer for the Obama administration on Monday in the early part of an argument related to the President Barack Obama’s plan to protect the undocumented immigrants from deportations and allow them to work in the country legally. Twenty six states brought the case at court against the presidential power, the New York Times reports and says the case “may produce a significant ruling on presidential power and immigration policy.”
The government’s top appellate lawyer Donald B.Verrilli Jr defended in his arguments President Obama’s authority to set priorities for immigration enforcement. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and several other’s court members, sharply challenged Verrilli’s arguments. As the Times says, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked if the president “can defer the deportations for millions of people without specific congressional authorization.” He also said the State of Texas should not challenge the president’s actions with the explanation that the state should finance driver’s licenses to the immigrants affected by the policy.
The case, United States v.Texas, No. 15-674 as the Times writes, is being heard by an eight-member court, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. The Times says, “a 4-4 deadlock is now a live possibility, one that would leave in place an appeals court ruling that blocks the plan without setting a Supreme Court precedent.”
The court agreed in January to hear the case, and this month granted a lawyer for the House of Representatives, which supports the challengers, 15 minutes to present arguments on that issue, the Times writes. The 26 states challenging Obama’s immigration plan explained the President takes “unilateral and unlawful action to sidestep Congress on gun control, gay rights, the minimum wage, contraception and climate change.”
The case touches a program that could allow halting of deportations to as many as five million unauthorized immigrants, who are parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents.Similar program, announced in November 2014, was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.