The Supreme Court handed down a 4-4 tie on a case concerning President Obama’s immigration plan, which sought to protect millions of undocumented immigrants and refugees from deportation. This tie simply upheld the lower court’s decision, effectively halting Obama’s plan for the rest of his presidency. Its future now rests with an appeal to be decided by a Court which will presumably include the next President’s nominee.
President Obama gave a statement, signaling his disappointment with the decision, saying in part: “For more than two centuries, welcoming wave after wave of immigrants has kept us youthful and dynamic and entrepreneurial; it has shaped our character, and it has made us stronger.”
He added that SCOTUS’ inability to rule on his policy to fix our broken immigration system “doesn’t just set the system back even further; it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be.”
Hillary Clinton also responded with disappointment about the ruling, and concern for what it could mean for families with undocumented members:
Today’s heartbreaking #SCOTUS immigration ruling could tear apart 5 million families facing deportation. We must do better. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 23, 2016
As noted by SCOTUSblog: This case will be appealed, which means that the President’s immigration policy “will be revived if Clinton wins and a democratic nominee provides a 5th vote.”
Naturally, we know what will happen if Donald Trump is elected and instead nominates to the Supreme Court whatever nightmare of jurisprudence he unearths from the bowels of Liberty University Law School.
This is a case with potentially life-or-death consequences for scores of undocumented immigrants. It is a case, as the President observed, about the kind of country we want to be.
Donald Trump wants to build a wall. House Republicans merely want to erect “high fencing.” In any case, the Republican position on immigration is to build barriers, while the Democratic position — as repeatedly stated by Hillary — is to tear them down.
SCOTUS now sits in wait to see who wins. Quite literally. A ninth seat stands vacant, as Senate Republicans refuse to recognize President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
And millions of undocumented immigrants and refugees wait along with them.
This election, as every election, really matters. Because SCOTUS really matters.