In dissent on DACA ruling, Justice Thomas suggests SCOTUS ignored the law to avoid controversy

Fox News reported this week that Chief Justice John Roberts had sided with the Supreme Court’s four liberal justices in a 5–4 decision requiring President Donald Trump to overcome additional regulatory hurdles before he can end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But Justice Clarence Thomas, for his part, has made clear that he isn’t on board with the new ruling.

Joined by fellow GOP-appointed justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, Thomas laid out in a scathing dissent the reasons why he believes the Supreme Court’s ruling on DACA “creates perverse incentives, particularly for outgoing administrations,” as Breitbart reported.

“Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Thomas et al. wrote, according to Breitbart.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by Trump, authored his own, separate dissent to the ruling, according to Newsweek.

Ripple effects

According to Breitbart, Thomas’ dissent criticized Roberts — a George W. Bush appointee — as well as the court’s four Democrat-appointed justices for making a ruling that he said sets a dangerous precedent for future commanders-in-chief. The justice asserted that the decision protecting former President Barack Obama’s DACA program, which Thomas wrote “was unlawful from its inception,” allows future presidents to “bind their successors by unlawfully adopting significant legal changes through Executive Branch agency memoranda,” as Breitbart reported.

“In other words,” the justice and his fellow dissenters argued, “the majority erroneously holds that the agency is not only permitted, but required, to continue administering unlawful programs that it inherited from a previous administration.”

They went on: “The Court could have made clear that the solution respondents seek must come from the Legislative Branch. Instead, the majority has decided to prolong [the Department of Homeland Security’s] initial overreach by providing a stopgap measure of its own.

“In doing so, it has given the green light for future political battles to be fought in this Court rather than where they rightfully belong — the political branches,” the dissent added, according to Breitbart. “Such timidity forsakes the Court’s duty to apply the law according to neutral principles, and the ripple effects of the majority’s error will be felt throughout our system of self-government.”

Politically charged?

Of course, that’s not how the other justices saw it. According to Fox, the high court ruled that “the Department of Homeland Security’s move to eliminate the program was done in an ‘arbitrary and capricious’ manner,” but, as Roberts insists, didn’t rule on the “merits” of DACA.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern,'” Roberts wrote in the majority’s opinion, according to Fox. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”

President Donald Trump, for his part, has reacted to the ruling by expressing concern that the Supreme Court is leaning too far to the left. The DACA decision came on the heels of another SCOTUS ruling that, according to The Washington Post, solidified protections from discrimination for gay and transgender workers.

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