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Hundreds of people gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court to rally in support of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Supreme Court justices appeared divided on Tuesday over whether the Trump administration properly rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era policy that allows unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to remain and work in the country.

The big picture: Liberal justices questioned whether the administration clearly explained why it ended DACA — beyond claiming it to be illegal — and the impact of ending it. Conservative justices seemed skeptical about whether the courts have the authority to review the decision at all.

Why it matters: This is just the beginning. A decision is expected by the end of June, and it will affect hundreds of thousands of lives, American businesses and communities.

  • Meanwhile outside the courtroom, hundreds of protestors marched and chanted, "Home is here," holding signs that called for the protection of "Dreamers."

Inside, conservative justices questioned the challengers on why the Trump administration's decision to end DACA fell under judicial review.

  • Even if the court were to decide that the Trump administration ended DACA by wrongfully citing its illegality and by failing to adequately consider the broad consequences, Chief Justice John Roberts asked the challengers how much more reasoning and analysis the government would need to add.
  • And what would be the point in delaying the end of the program, justices asked, if the Trump administration can simply reword its rescission of DACA and go through with it anyway.

Liberal judges stressed the significant impact that ending DACA would have on individuals, businesses and communities. They questioned whether the government adequately accounted for the factors in its decision, as required, and took clear responsibility for the potential impacts.

And where is the political decision made clearly? That this is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.
— Justice Sonia Sotomayor to Solicitor General Noel Francisco
  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was the first to question U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, asking how the administration can say it is within agencies' discretion to end DACA — and that the courts cannot interfere — while also claiming the program was ended because it was found to be illegal.

What to watch: The Justice Department made clear they don't want the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the DACA program, but instead on whether the administration followed the legally required steps and whether courts have the authority to intervene at all.

Between the lines: Supreme Court beat reporters from the New York Times and NBC News assess that based on their questions, the five conservative justices seem inclined to rule in favor of the Trump administration.

Go deeper: What's at stake as DACA reaches the Supreme Court

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.