By Bronte Price, PoliticKING
The Supreme Court appears to be divided along ideological lines on Obama’s immigration case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674. The justices seemed split during oral arguments on Monday, in a case that could determine President Obama's immigration legacy.
Obama's use of authority to use executive actions in an attempt to shield around 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation raised questions for the more conservative justices. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito raised concerns over the fact that the program's recipients would be "lawfully present," which, they suggested, would contradict immigration law.
"How is it possible to lawfully work in the United States without lawfully being in the United States?" Alito asked.
Roberts added, "I mean, they're lawfully present, and yet, they're present in violation of the law?"
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The case, which was brought by 26 states, will be an important ruling on presidential power and immigration policy, both of which are important topics in the current presidential campaign.
Much of the arguments dealt with the logistics of the president's power. Justice Anthony Kennedy raised concerns about whether or not the president can defer deportations for millions of people without specific congressional authorization. “That is a legislative task, not an executive task,” he said. “It’s as if the president is defining the policy and the Congress is executing it. That’s just upside down.”
The liberals justices seemed to agree more with the administration's arguments. Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that there are not enough resources to deport everyone. "They are here whether we want them or not," she said. Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out that there are 11.3 million “undocumented aliens” in the country. She added that Congress has provided funding for removing about 4 million of them. "So inevitably, priorities have to be set," she said.
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The case was heard by an eight member court, because of absence of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. A 4-4 split is now a likely possibility, which would leave in place an appeals court ruling that blocks the plan and does not set a Supreme Court precedent.
Here’s what Gary Johnson has to say about immigration policy:
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