Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in an opinion objecting to the court’s Thursday decision blocking President Trump’s effort to end an Obama-era program that protected those who illegally arrived in the U.S. as children, criticized his fellow justices for avoiding a “politically controversial” decision and showing “timidity” in not striking down the policy.
Thomas was joined in his partial dissent by Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Neil Gorsuch in what was a 5-4 decision. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote his own partial dissent.
“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Thomas wrote. “The Court could have made clear that the solution respondents seek must come from the Legislative Branch. Instead, the majority has decided to prolong [the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS)] initial overreach by providing a stopgap measure of its own.”
He added: “In doing so, it has given the green light for future political battles to be fought in this Court rather than where they rightfully belong—the political branches. Such timidity forsakes the Court’s duty to apply the law according to neutral principles, and the ripple effects of the majority’s error will be felt throughout our system of self-government.”
Thomas’ main objection to the majority of the court, which voted to uphold the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, also called DACA, in the face of Trump efforts to roll it back, was that the Obama administration did not go through the proper channels in the first place. Thomas said because of that, Trump should have been able to dismantle the program without justification.
The majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that the reasoning the Trump administration used for rolling back the program was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Thomas disagreed, slamming the creation of the program under the Obama administration, noting that the executive branch was not given the authority from Congress to essentially change the law, as DACA, in effect, did.
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