SCOTUS in Focus Series Opens With a Look at US v. Texas

By Thai Phi Le

May 2, 2016

Each year a wave of cases brings a flood of protesters to the U.S. Supreme Court steps. Legal analyses fill newspaper columns and take over news feeds. This year, however, the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the November elections have ramped up the typical frenzy surrounding the Court. 

To help pull out the substance from the noise, the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program, in partnership with SCOTUSblog, is offering the new six-part series "U.S. Supreme Court in Focus" from May to October. The series aims to create dialogue about some of the major issues before the Court, from abortion to immigration to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

The classes take place on the first Thursday of each month and will be moderated by SCOTUSblog editor and reporter Amy Howe. 

On May 5 the first of the series will examine United States v. Texas, a multistate challenge to President Obama's executive action to implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents to delay the deportation of some four million undocumented immigrants. The Court heard oral arguments on April 18.

"It's an incredibly important case in terms of the Supreme Court weighing in on the presidential powers, but also because immigration is such an important part of the presidential race as well," says Howe. In recent months the candidates have laid out their proposed immigration policies, from building a wall between Mexico and the United States to creating an Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Joining Howe for this discussion are Supreme Court experts Brianne J. Gorod, chief counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center, and Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Both have filed amicus briefs in the case. (Read Gorod and Shapiro's amicus briefs.)

Topics of discussion will include:

  • Whether the Obama administration has the authority to issue its new deferred-action policy for undocumented immigrants;
  • Whether the states have standing to challenge the policy at all;
  • Whether the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was required to notify the public about the proposed policy and provide opportunity for the public to comment;and 
  • Whether the policy violates the Constitution's "Take Care Clause," which requires the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." 

The panelists also will delve into the impact of having only eight sitting justices on the case. "There's a very real possibility of a 4–4 deadlock," said Howe.

The course takes place from 12 to 1 p.m. at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. Register now for the in-person presentation or Webinar for the May 5 course. 

Interested in the entire series? Get a discount and register for all six courses. The series is available both as an in-person presentation and a Webinar.

As the series continues, we'd love to get your input on what cases you might like to see discussed at a future course. Take our poll above.