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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Supreme Court Down to the Wire

Supreme Court Down to the Wire

Conservative justices would have prevented federal Border Patrol from removing Texas-installed razor wire when they need to.

By KIM WEHLE, The Bulwark 

ON MONDAY, THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, in a one-page order, vacated an injunction by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the Greg Abbott-vs.-Joe Biden border showdown. The Fifth Circuit’s order had allowed Texas to prevent federal officials from breaking through coils of concertina razor wire that the state installed along some parts of the Rio Grande to keep migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In October, Texas filed a lawsuit challenging federal officials’ power to cut the wire, which Texas claims violates state law. The lower district court sided with Texas but refused to stop the federal government from accessing areas blocked by the wire during the appeal. The Fifth Circuit granted the temporary ban and set oral argument on the merits for February 7. The question before the Supreme Court was narrow: whether, while awaiting the resolution of that lawsuit, federal Border Patrol should be able to cut the wire to gain access to certain portions of the border and individual migrants. The order indicates that four conservative justices—Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh—would have allowed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling to stay in place, effectively constraining federal power to enforce immigration law along parts of the Texas border, for now.

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