Amicus Briefs Underscore Political Nature Of Entire Challenge To Presidential Prerogative
The news that Senate Republicans have joined their House colleagues in filing amicus briefs against the deferred action immigration policies in the U.S. v Texas Supreme Court case is not particularly revealing in and of itself. After all, this is a Party that has voted multiple times to try to undercut these executive actions, taking us to the brink of a near-shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security to try to get their way.
But the names of the Republicans who did not sign on to their Party’s effort are, in fact, illuminating. They prove that this case is all about politics, not the law. This is just the latest in a long string of evidence that should end with the Supreme Court stepping in and putting an end to their political gamesmanship.
Since the beginning, the lawsuit challenging the DAPA and expanded DACA deferred action policies has been political in nature. Republican Governors and Attorneys General sued to block their implementation; every single Republican presidential contender vowed to erase them; and Republicans in both chambers of Congress have voted to end, block, or defund the policies multiple times.
This Congress alone, House Republicans have held eight anti-immigrant votes and recently voted in favor of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan signing the entire U.S. House of Representatives onto an amicus brief (rather than simply signing on the Republican conference, Ryan took what he called the “very extraordinary step” of scheduling a show-vote). Of the five House Republicans who voted against Ryan’s effort, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Rep. Bob Dold (IL-10), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) each represent districts with greater than 20% Latino populations (greater than two-thirds in each of the South Florida districts), while Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22) is retiring at the end of the term.
Similarly, the small contingent of Senate Republicans who did not sign on to their chamber’s brief were disproportionately comprised of those running for re-election and/or representing Latino-heavy states (see Seung Min Kim in Politico and Carl Hulse in the New York Times for more details). That these political calculations were paramount in deciding who officially signed onto the brief helps underscore the central point – politics, not principle, is driving the Republican lawsuit.
It’s also not a very convincing insulation tactic, since this lawsuit is rightly seen as one political party with an axe to grind about immigrants. Simply having an “R” by their name makes senators and Members of Congress guilty by association.
“Whether they signed their name to the lawsuit or not, it remains true that this is a Republican-led assault on immigrants,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice. “Voters who support DAPA and DACA are clear on that.”