The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has declared dismay over the U.S. Supreme Court deadlock that derails President Obama’s attempt to block deportation of millions of illegal immigrants and some Democrats are equally unhappy. Tennessee’s Republican congressmen are celebrating. So is Republican Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, who had joined the Texas-initiated lawsuit after prodding from GOP legislators.
All, of course, echo national partisan gridlock on the issue, illustrating once again that the old cliche about of all politics being local is no longer true. Here’s a roundup of Tennessee commentary from the quickly-generated press release pile:
News release from Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:
Nashville – This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 4-4 in the case of Texas vs. United States, the lawsuit brought by Texas, Tennessee, and 24 other states against President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration. As a result of the court’s deadlock, two programs that would have allowed more than 4 million Americans and an estimated 38,000 Tennesseans to apply for a deferral from deportation and employment authorization remain blocked.
The split decision by the Supreme Court will not set any precedent, but allows the decisions of lower courts to stand. Legal experts agree that the president’s actions are constitutional and well-established: every U.S. president since Eisenhower has exercised similar executive authority on immigration. The lawsuit against the programs was never grounded in law or history, but was a politically-motivated attack on immigrant families.
Today, our system has failed immigrant families. In 2013, Congress failed immigrant communities when the House of Representatives failed to vote on a bi-partisan immigration bill that passed the Senate 68-32. Now, the judicial system has again failed immigrant communities by reaching an impasse on a highly politicized court case that controls the future of millions of people and their families. We are ashamed that our state and our Attorney General have played a role in delaying justice for immigrant community members across the country.
The following is a quote from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:
“We are outraged by the court’s decision that effectively denies justice and opportunity to 38,000 Tennessee families. This is a devastating loss, not only for affected families but for our entire state. Attorney General Slatery put politics over people when he joined this politically motivated lawsuit that was never in the best interest of our state. We will continue to fight in our local communities, at the state legislature, and across the country for the rights of families to stay together. Despite today’s loss, immigrant families are here to stay.”
Statement from Attorney General Herbert Slatery:
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision is a welcome result. With the Court affirming the lower court, we finally have a decision placing limits on executive authority and confining its role to enforcing, and not making, our laws. The original complaint in this action said it best, “this lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.” Everyone is frustrated over immigration, regardless of viewpoint. Congress needs to resolve this issue and has done virtually nothing. But with that said, the President does not have the authority to change the law, whether by directive, executive order, a letter, or the like. That role is reserved for Congress. Otherwise the people do not have a voice or an opportunity to influence policy. Today’s decision confirms that.”
From U.S. Sen. Bob Corker
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after a 4-4 decision by the United States Supreme Court affirmed an appeals court ruling that blocks President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“I strongly oppose President Obama’s unilateral actions, which effectively changed immigration laws without going through Congress, and I am pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court ruling blocking these actions from moving forward,” said Corker. “Today’s result is a victory for separation of powers and the democratic process.”
The Supreme Court took up the case (United States of America v. State of Texas) after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in November of 2015 affirmed a preliminary injunction by a federal district court in Brownsville, Texas, blocking the Obama administration from moving forward with its executive actions on immigration.
In April 2016, Corker joined U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 41 other Senate Republicans in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of a challenge by a majority of the nation’s governors and attorneys general of the states, including Tennessee, to the Obama administration’s November 2014 executive actions on immigration.
From U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) released the following statement on the 4-4 Supreme Court ruling effectively blocking implementation of President Obama’s 2014 executive amnesty:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory for the rule of law and a clear rebuke to an arrogant Administration that disregarded the Constitutional separation of powers and thought it could get away with it,” said Congressman Diane Black. “For a former Constitutional law professor, President Obama has never understood basic civics. Perhaps that’s why, even before today’s ruling, this President had lost twice as many legal challenges as his predecessor. I am hopeful this Supreme Court decision will give President Obama the reality check needed to carry out his responsibilities under the Take Care Clause of the Constitution and stop pushing his amnesty agenda at the expense of the American people.”
Congressman Black continued, “I was proud to stand with the 26 states, including Tennessee, that brought this lawsuit by signing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reach this decision. President Obama is many things, but a king isn’t one of them. We are a nation of laws and, as this decision affirms, he cannot rewrite those laws on a whim to fit his own wishes.”
From state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) made the following statement in regards to the decision handed down today by the U.S. Supreme Court on immigration in the case United States v. Texas. The high court affirmed a lower court decision which resulted in a preliminary injunction against executive action taken by President Obama that would have provided illegal immigrants legal status and protection, effectively killing the plan for the duration of Obama’s presidency.
Sen. Norris said, “The Supreme Court struck a blow for liberty today and against regulation without representation,” regarding the decision. “It matters who governs and it matters when the power of those who govern is unconstitutionally usurped.”
“This should be a reminder of the importance of checks and balances and the separation of powers which must be observed and preserved,” he added.
“As this Administration and its unelected regulators have become increasingly disconnected from the reality of American life and law, it is up to those elected by the people to ensure the federal government stays in check. That’s why the General Assembly passed SJR2 calling for an amendment to the Constitution for Regulation Freedom and more recently passed SJR467 calling on the Tennessee Attorney General to sue the federal government over its refugee resettlement program,” he concluded.
From U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander
MARYVILLE, June 23 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement on today’s Supreme Court ruling on immigration:
“In April, I joined 42 other senators asking the Supreme Court to block President Obama’s overreach on immigration, so I’m glad to see that the lower court’s decision will stand. It’s up to Congress to make the laws and address our broken immigration system. Our Founders did not want a king and the American people do not want a president who acts like one.”
Because today’s Supreme Court ruling was 4-4, the decision of the lower court on the president’s executive actions on immigration stands.
From U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) released the following statement after the United States Supreme Court reached a 4-4 tie on President Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform, upholding the lower court’s decision to stop the president’s actions:
“I am glad the courts have upheld the rule of law. I am completely opposed to the president’s irresponsible and unconstitutional approach to immigration reform, and was outraged when he moved forward with these executive actions. Laws are not written in the Oval Office; Congress has the sole authority to write and change law. President Obama has no choice but to work with Congress if he expects to accomplish anything in the final months of his presidency, and I will continue to stand against his reckless approach to governing.”
BACKGROUND: One of the first actions Congressman Roe took at the beginning of the 114th Congress was to write then-Speaker John Boehner to urge him to move swiftly to eliminate funding for implementation of the president’s executive actions on immigration reform. In April, Roe also supported a resolution on the House floor to file an amicus brief in the case before the Supreme Court.
The state of Tennessee joined over half the states in the U.S. in their lawsuit against the president in December 2014. According to a report in the Tennessean, there are an estimated 124,000 immigrants living illegally in the state of Tennessee.
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, (as quoted by the Tennessean)
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, who supported the president’s program, pointed to a court that is one justice shy of nine because of the Republican-controlled Senate’s unwillingness to hold hearings on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
“Congress won’t act, and President Obama tried to find a solution to keep families together,” Cooper said. “We need a bolder Congress and a full Supreme Court to break the tie.”
From U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood
Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s 4-4 decision in United States v. Texas, which upholds the lower court’s decision that the president’s use of executive action to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants is unlawful:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision proves that Congress should pass and the President should sign H.R. 5272, the Blackburn-Cruz DACA language.
“For years I have fought to pass legislation to end the DACA program. This is a win for the Constitution and for the American people. President Obama’s use of a pen and phone to rewrite immigration laws from the oval office to implement executive amnesty was lawless from day one. SCOTUS has sent King Obama a powerful message,” Blackburn said. (More http://blackburn.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=397977.)