The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 23 that President Obama can’t prevent undocumented individuals from being deported in United States v. Texas and also upheld affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, two relevant topics in the current election season.
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin was an unusual ruling. The court voted 4-3, with the traditionally conservative-minded Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with the court’s remaining three liberal justices — after Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case due to conflicting interests with her tenure as solicitor general.
According to Penn Law professor Kermit Roosevelt, the ruling is surprising, as the court was expected to have ruled in favor of the plaintiff, especially before conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in early 2016.
2016 Penn Law graduate Alexander Bedrosyan said the ruling on affirmative action was also “an extremely narrow holding,” indicating that “far from establishing any new law, [the ruling] reaffirms that the constitution requires public universities that consider race in their admissions to do so in the most limited manner.”
Bedrosyan, who also served as an executive editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, remarked that the Supreme Court’s decision would “hardly [be] a resounding victory for affirmative action,” as “in the University of Texas program whose constitutionality was endorsed by the Supreme Court, race is a sub-factor of a sub-factor of a sub-factor in the admission of 25% of applicants.”
Berdosyan instead commented that it would be interesting to see if more states “mimic Texas by adopting admissions plans that automatically admit students in the top 10% of their high school class,” as “these plans exploit the fact that school districts have become de facto racially segregated, and as such achieve some racial diversity indirectly.”
The Supreme Court also ruled 4-4 regarding the constitutionality of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program issued in an executive order by President Obama. The equally divided court thus upheld the lower court’s decision of a preliminary injunction blocking the program, and preventing citizens’ parents from deferring deportation, without setting a national precedent. The case may now reach the Supreme Court again after Judge Hanen, the original district court judge, has held a trial regarding the executive action taken by the president.
Some Philadelphians reacted with shock and outrage against this recent ruling according to , gathering on the day of the decision at Juntos, a Latino immigrant organization, in South Philadelphia. With DAPA now in question, parents of American-born children once again face the threat of deportation.
Maria Sotomayor, who immigrated from Ecuador when she was nine, told CBS Local, “We are going to organized, this is just the beginning– this blow will make us stronger; we are not pawns in a political game.”
According to professor Roosevelt, this recent ruling has effectively ended the potential for the DAPA program, and the likelihood of immigration reform, for the rest of the Obama presidency.
Immigration has been a key issue in the 2016 presidential election, with severe distinctions between Democrats and Republicans. Now, the court’s decision will further intensify the debate.
Roosevelt remarked that, in the case of a Democrat presidency, the case could go back to the Supreme Court on more favorable terms.
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