Jun 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rebuffs GOP challenge to Biden's immigration policies

Asylum-seekers line up to be processed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents at a gap in the US-Mexico border fence near Somerton, Ariz., on Dec. 26, 2022

Asylum-seekers line up to be processed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents near Somerton, Ariz., in December. Photo: Rebecca Noble/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday threw out a GOP-led challenge to one of the Biden administration's key immigration policies — a major victory for the White House.

Why it matters: The ruling is a win for the Biden administration on immigration and may signal that Republicans will have a harder time trying to block other policies as well.

Details: The Biden administration announced in 2021 that, rather than attempting to arrest and deport everyone who has entered the U.S. illegally, it would prioritize people who were suspected of terrorism or violent crime.

  • Texas and Louisiana sued, arguing that the new policy would result in too few arrests.
  • The court said Friday that the states didn't have the standing to bring that lawsuit.

The big picture: The decision seems to signal there's a limit to how creative states can get when trying to block federal policies — and red states have been getting really creative lately in some of their efforts to achieve policy objectives through the courts.

How it works: To challenge a federal policy in court, you have to prove you've been injured by that policy. Texas said it had been injured by Biden's immigration-enforcement decisions because it would have to spend money on services for people who weren't deported.

  • That's not enough of an injury to stop the federal government from exercising its authority, at least in this way, the court said in an 8-1 decision.
  • Red states have made similar arguments in several other cases, including challenges to President Biden's plan to forgive student debt.

Between the lines: Friday's ruling doesn't guarantee that those suits will also fail — the court has long deferred to the executive branch on immigration, including in its ruling allowing then-President Trump's travel ban to remain in effect.

  • But the immigration case is at least a partial rebuke to lower courts — dominated by conservative judges — that have accepted more tenuous arguments about standing.

"The States have brought an extraordinarily unusual lawsuit," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the majority opinion. "They want a federal court to order the Executive Branch to alter its arrest policies so as to make more arrests. Federal courts have not traditionally entertained that kind of lawsuit."

Go deeper