The Supreme Court issued a 4-4 tied ruling yesterday that by default upheld a lower court decision that had halted President Obama’s effort to provide temporary deportation relief to about five million undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens or greencard holders.
“Seldom have the hopes of so many been crushed by so few words,” attorney Walter Dellinger told The New York Times, referring to the nine-word decision upholding the lower court’s ruling.
The tie — which, while devastating for millions, does not set a national precedent, but does leave in place a nationwide injunction against the executive actions — was the result of a court that has been operating with only eight justices since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. This is thanks to an unprecedented campaign of obstruction by Senate Republicans, who have refused to so much as hold a hearing on Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to fill the seat.
Yesterday’s ruling was exactly what those pushing for Republicans to hold a Supreme Court seat open for the next president — who they hope will be the fiercely anti-immigrant Donald Trump — were hoping for. In a blog post for the National Review today, Carrie Severino, whose Judicial Crisis Network has been the primary outside group pressuring Republicans to block Garland’s nomination, writes that it is thanks to Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and their allies in obstruction that millions of immigrants are now faced with more legal uncertainty:
Leader McConnell, Senator Grassley, and all the GOP Senators who have stood firm on this nomination should get much of the credit for today’s decision. They have upheld their own oaths to support and defend the Constitution, and deserve our thanks.
Keep in mind that just a few months ago Severino’s group was arguing that their effort to keep the Supreme Court seat open had nothing to do with politics but was instead a high-minded effort to let “the people decide” who the next justice would be in the next presidential election. (Never mind that the people had already decided to reelect President Obama.)
Trump hit on a similar message in his response to the ruling, saying, “The election, and the Supreme Court appointments that come with it will decide whether or not we have a border and, hence, a country.”