News / USA

    Court's Ruling on US Immigration Case Could Set Limits on Presidential Power

    FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court building, Oct. 5, 2015.
    FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court building, Oct. 5, 2015.
    Reuters

    The U.S. Supreme Court challenge to President Barack Obama's immigration policies could have an impact far beyond determining whether millions of undocumented immigrants can remain in the country. The case has the potential to constrain the power of Obama's successor to bypass Congress and act alone.

    Should Obama's order blocking deportations for certain immigrants be invalidated by the justices, the decision could hamper future presidents' ability to craft policy through executive fiat, legal experts told Reuters.

    "The question is not the merits of the immigration issue," said T. Gerald Treece, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston. "The question is what the president's power is."

    Obama's executive orders

    The high court said Tuesday it would hear the lawsuit brought by 26 states that seeks to overturn Obama's 2014 executive order that shields more than 4 million immigrants in the country illegally from deportation proceedings.

    The Democratic Obama White House, vexed by a hostile, Republican-controlled Congress, has employed the president's executive authority with increasing frequency.

    In addition to the executive order on deportations, Obama has acted alone to alter provisions of the Affordable Care Act, limit carbon emissions to combat climate change and toughen the requirements on firearms merchants.

    Should Obama lose before the Supreme Court, the case could tie the hands of a future president to act in similar ways.

    The immigration case likely will be argued before the Supreme Court in April, with a decision handed down at the end of June, guaranteeing that presidential power will be a front-burner issue as the race for the White House intensifies.

    In taking the case, the justices indicated they will consider whether Obama violated not just federal immigration statutes but the Constitution as well, raising the possibility that the court could articulate a forward-looking principle that limits the reach of a president's executive authority – particularly with regard to domestic issues.

    Foreign affairs

    Presidents historically enjoy more freedom to act unilaterally when it comes to foreign affairs.

    "If the Supreme Court rules against the administration on that ground, that would have a more positive impact on the limits of the president's power on domestic policy," said Todd Gaziano, a constitutional law expert with the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation and a former Justice Department lawyer.

    The justices' decision to allow a constitutional challenge to Obama's actions was seized upon by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

    Cruz, the former top advocate for the state of Texas before the Supreme Court, published an article last year in a Harvard Law School journal condemning what he termed the administration's "lawlessness."

    On the stump, however, Cruz has promised to roll back the Affordable Care Act as well as unilaterally terminate the Obama administration's nuclear pact with Iran, both examples of aggressive presidential action.

    Presidents tend to favor a generous reading of their authority and resist any court-imposed limitations, said Kenneth Mayer, an executive power scholar at the University of Wisconsin.

    Indeed, in 2008, Obama ran for president criticizing President George W. Bush's expansive use of executive power, which included a warrantless wiretapping program and indefinite detention of terror suspects. Once in office, Obama continued many of Bush's counterterrorism policies and has zealously guarded presidential power.

    'Year of Action'

    During his second term, Obama declared a "Year of Action" and vowed to use his "pen and phone" to issue policy directives in the face of congressional inaction. The immigration order came soon thereafter.

    Cruz could experience a similar conversion should he reach the White House. "The world looks very different from the Oval Office than it does from the campaign trail," Mayer said.

    Mayer predicts the court will not go as far as to set limits on a president's executive power, and will instead likely narrowly tailor its ruling to the immigration issue in question.

    Still, he concedes with conservatives holding a 5-4 majority "it's possible the court will impose some constraints."

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora