The Corner

District Court Declares Obama Immigration Amnesty Unconstitutional

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that President Obama’s actions in decreeing effective amnesty — i.e., guarantee against prosecution plus the provision of positive legal benefits — violates the Constitution.

In a 38-page opinion, Judge Arthur J. Schwab held that the president’s action exceeds executive authority. The court rejected the administration’s claim that Obama’s non-enforcement of the immigration laws is a valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion, reasoning that because the executive order creates broad categorical exemptions from enforcement, rather than evaluating aliens on a case-by-case basis, it is actually a rewriting of Congress’s statutes not a routine allocation of prosecutorial resources. Moreover, by effectively legislating benefits for aliens, the executive purports to exercise powers that the Constitution vests in Congress.

The president’s misuse of the prosecutorial discretion doctrine and usurpation of Congress’s legislative authority, particularly in the area of immigration (non)enforcement, are dilated on extensively in my recent book, Faithless Execution.

Jon Adler has a quick analysis of Judge Schwab’s opinion at the Volokh Conspiracy, here.

I wonder how the Republican establishment will take this: A federal court has the gumption to declare the obvious — namely, that Obama’s immigration policy is unconstitutional, just as Republican candidates argued while seeking votes during the recent midterm election campaign — only three days after 20 Republican senators astonishingly joined with the Democrats to endorse Obama’s policy as constitutionally valid.

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