TRAVEL BAN UPDATE: “SOPS” Continue To Flow From 9th Cir. Judges in Washington v. Trump — WSJ & WASHPOST Hang “Stupid But Constitutional” Tag On Trump — CNN’s Danny Cevallos Agrees With Rappaport That Trump Has Good Chance Of Ultimate Legal Win!

What’s a “SOP?”  That was BIA lingo for “separate opinion,” a fairly frequent occurrence on the “Schmidt Board.”

There are now five separate opinions commenting on the refusal of the en banc 9th Circuit to vacate the panel’s decision in State of Washington v. Trump following the Government’s decision to withdraw it’s appeal form the TRO on “Travel Ban 1.0:”

“This order is being filed along with a concurrence from Judge Reinhardt, a concurrence from Judge Berzon, a dissent from Judge Kozinski, a dissent from Judge Bybee, and a dissent from Judge Bea. No further opinions will be filed.

Josh Gerstein explains in Politico:

“President Donald Trump’s travel ban has triggered an unusually caustic public spat among the judges of the federal appeals court that first took up the issue.

The disagreement began to play out publicly Wednesday when five 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges publicly recorded their disagreement with a decision three of their colleagues issued last month refusing to allow Trump to reinstate the first version of his travel ban executive order.
The fight escalated dramatically on Friday with the five Republican-appointed judges filing another withering attack on the earlier opinion and two liberal judges accusing their conservative colleagues of trying to make an end-run around the traditional judicial process.

In the new opinion, Judge Alex Kozinski blasted the earlier ruling for essentially ignoring the fact that most of those affected by Trump’s initial travel ban have no constitutional rights.

“This St. Bernard is being wagged by a flea on its tail,” Kozinski wrote, joined by Judges Carlos Bea, Jay Bybee, Sandra Ikuta and Consuelo Callahan.

Kozinski’s opinion harshly criticized the earlier 9th Circuit decision for blessing the idea that courts could take account of Trump’s campaign-trail statements vowing to implement a Muslim ban.

“My colleagues err by failing to vacate this hasty opinion. The panel’s unnecessary statements on this subject will shape litigation near and far. We’ll quest aimlessly for true intentions across a sea of insults and hyperbole. It will be (as it were) a huge, total disaster,” Kozinski said, in an an apparent tip of the hat to Trump’s bombast.

That didn’t sit well with Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who accused his colleagues of trying to affect the ongoing litigation over Trump’s redrafted executive order.

“Judge Kozinski’s diatribe, filed today, confirms that a small group of judges, having failed in their effort to undo this court’s decision with respect to President Trump’s first Executive Order, now seek on their own, under the guise of a dissent from the denial of en banc rehearing of an order of voluntary dismissal, to decide the constitutionality of a second Executive Order that is not before this court,” wrote Reinhardt, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter. “That is hardly the way the judiciary functions. Peculiar indeed!”

Another liberal 9th Circuit judge, Marsha Berzon, weighed in Friday with a more restrained rejection of her colleagues’ efforts to undermine the earlier ruling.

“Judges are empowered to decide issues properly before them, not to express their personal views on legal questions no one has asked them. There is no appeal currently before us, and so no stay motion pending that appeal currently before us either,” wrote Berzon, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. “All the merits commentary in the dissents filed by a small minority of the judges of this court is entirely out of place.”
“My dissenting colleagues should not be engaging in a one-sided attack on a decision by a duly constituted panel of this court,” Berzon added. “We will have this discussion, or one like it. But not now.”

Kozinski responded by accusing his liberal colleagues of trying to silence the court’s public debate on the issue.”

“My colleagues’ effort to muzzle criticism of an egregiously wrong panel opinion betrays their insecurity about the opinion’s legal analysis,” wrote Kozinski, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan.”

Here’s the link to Gerstein’s article:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/9th-circuit-judges-feud-trump-travel-ban-236211

And, here is the link to the court’s order containing all of the opinions, so you can judge for yourself:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2017/03/17/17-35105_Amd_Order.pdf

Meanwhile, the WSJ Editorial Board channeled a little of the late Justice Antonin Scalia:

“The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wished aloud that all federal judges be issued a stamp that said “Stupid but Constitutional.” Such a stamp would have been useful this week to the two federal judges who bounced President Trump’s revised travel ban that suspends immigration from six Muslim-majority countries that the Administration says pose particular terror risks.

Our view is that the ban is lousy policy, and any urgency that Mr. Trump’s first-week executive order once had is gone. But after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the original version, the White House went back to the drafting board and tailored the new order to address the court’s objections. The President has vast discretion over immigration, and the do-over is grounded both in statute and core presidential powers, which is when the Supreme Court’s Youngstown decision teaches that a President’s authority to act is strongest.”

Read the complete editorial here:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-trump-legal-exception-1489706694

On today’s editorial page, the Washington Post made much the same point, if only a little less emphatically with respect to the Administration’s legal position:

“THE SPEED and enthusiasm with which two federal courts halted President Trump’s latest travel executive order might suggest that the revised policy is as obviously problematic as the last, which was a sloppy rush job that the government poorly defended in court. In fact, the revised policy, while still more likely to harm than help national security, is legally far more defensible. Decades of precedent instruct judges to defer to the executive branch on immigration and national security matters such as this. It should surprise no one if the Supreme Court eventually allows the Trump administration to proceed.”

Read the complete Post editorial here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-new-travel-order-is-self-defeating-and-maybe-legal-too/2017/03/17/95171a6c-0a93-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html?utm_term=.7cf47133cd49

Finally, CNN Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos makes many of the same points that Nolan Rappaport has made in his articles in The Hill in predicting that the Administration legally has a winner if they are ever able to get this issue to the Supremes:

“The president is in charge of immigration. Immigration policy, by its very definition, is a form of discrimination. The only truly nondiscriminatory immigration policy would be: Everyone come in, whenever you want. Anything short of that is discrimination in some form, and it’s generally within the president’s province. This is not some village rezoning policy. This is national immigration policy, and it’s different than any of the other Establishment Clause cases.
If courts can look into this particular President’s prior statements when considering the constitutionality of his actions, then every single executive action is potentially vulnerable. A gender-neutral executive order could be challenged as discriminatory against women. After all, this is the candidate who believes women can just be grabbed by the …, well, you know. A presidential action that is disability-neutral could be challenged on the basis that the candidate mocked a disabled reporter.
While the court in Hawaii cited established Supreme Court precedent in finding a probable Establishment Clause violation, the appellate courts could still find that Trump’s executive authority prevails. Yes, the district court cited some controlling authority, but an appellate court could distinguish those cases from the unique case before it — one that pits constitutional executive power head-to-head with the First Amendment.”

Read the full Cevallos analysis here:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/16/opinions/trump-win-travel-ban-appeal-danny-cevallos-opinion/index.html

Then, read Nolan’s previous articles from The Hill or as reposted on this blog.

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Overall, I think it is a good thing when there is some spirited dissent and disagreement among members of a collegial court like the 9th Circuit.  It shows that the Judges are engaged and that they care about the issues, as they should. Also, dissent is often directed at other courts (like the Supreme Court), at Congress, the Executive, or at educating the media and the public at large about important legal issues. Without dissent and the resulting dialogue it often provokes, you would have “a room full of people patting each other on the back.” And, what’s the purpose of a “deliberative” collegial court that doesn’t “deliberate?”

PWS

03/18/17

 

E. Donald Elliott In The WSJ: Dems Would Be Wise To Take A Pass On Filibuster Of Judge Gorsuch!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/refugees-are-part-of-americas-fabric-and-its-promise/2017/02/06/c10179ba-ea59-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html

Elliott, an Adjunct Professor of Law at Yale Law writes:

“Moderates could do a lot worse than Judge Neil Gorsuch—and we probably will if he isn’t confirmed. Donald Trump is clearly determined to nominate a judicial conservative to the Supreme Court. Elections have consequences, as Barack Obama once chided congressional Republicans.

Judge Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy isn’t mine. He believes that the Constitution’s meaning is fixed, that whatever the words signified in the era of the Founders is what they still express today. My view, which aligns more closely with that of Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, is that judges must respect the Constitution’s text and history but may also interpret them to fit the changing times.

But among judicial conservatives, Judge Gorsuch is as good as it possibly gets. I have known him personally for more than a decade, since he was an attorney in the Justice Department. He is a brilliant mind, but more important he is a kind, sensitive and caring human being. Judge Gorsuch tries very hard to get the law right. He is not an ideologue, not the kind to always rule in favor of businesses or against the government. Instead, he follows the law as best as he can wherever it might lead.

Judge Gorsuch has demonstrated in his rulings that he believes the judiciary has a sworn duty to protect individual liberties, even when they lack broad public support. Today Judge Gorsuch rules that Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to offer employees certain contraceptive coverage that violates its owners’ religious beliefs. (That ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court.) But tomorrow it could mean standing up for an unpopular minority group that liberals like better.”

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PWS

02/07/17

 

From “The Week:” Strange Bedfellows — If “Sanctuary Cities” & Migrants’ Advocates Defeat President Trump’s Policies In Court, They Might Owe A Huge Debt To Conservative Judges, Like The Late Justice Antonin Scalia!

http://theweek.com/articles/674498/how-conservative-judges-unintentionally-sabotaged-president-trumps-immigration-crackdown

Self-described “free-market progressive libertarian” Shikha Dalmia writes in The Week:

“But there’s another big cost that will hamstring this sanctuary city crackdown: If he can’t command local cooperation by threatening to cut funds, then President Trump also can’t de facto deputize local law enforcement agents. So he will have to cough up large sums of federal money to triple the size of the federal deportation force that would be required to eject millions of additional people.

And that will also mean bad optics, because without cooperative local authorities, President Trump will not be able to order ICE agents to whisk away all of these folks quietly in the dead of the night, shielded from media cameras. Instead, he’ll have to start raiding schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces, which will make for terrible publicity.

Whether Trump will go that far remains to be seen. But thanks primarily to the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, it’ll be very hard for him to do so. And that gives undocumented workers far more of a chance than if they had to depend only on the good intentions of local liberal politicians.

The irony is that these immigrants would be in much bigger trouble if Justice Sonia Sotomayor, along with her liberal colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had prevailed in the ObamaCare ruling, as many liberals had hoped at the time. They were completely on board with ObamaCare’s efforts to use federal funds to strong-arm states.

So what’s the lesson? That standing up for bedrock checks and balances is a far better protector of vulnerable minorities than do-gooding liberal politics.”

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I’ve written before that the Trump Administration might not get the anticipated “free pass” to bash migrants that they apparently anticipate from Republican appointees on the U.S. Courts of Appeals and a conservative majority Supreme Court.  Leaving aside “hot button” or “litmus test” issues like abortion, doctrinal conservatives often have great Constitutional reservations about the unbridled use of Executive Power. Indeed, doctrinal conservatism at some point comes close to libertarianism, and libertarianism has some things in common with liberalism.

Thus, at some point in my career, I found myself sitting at a Cato Institute Seminar and nodding in agreement when none other than Grover Norquist described his essentially “free market” approach to migration and border enforcement issues.

In  the end, the fact that independent Article III judges, conservative, liberal, middle of the roaders, Republicans, and Democrats, freed of political control, will deliberatively decide what the law requires could turn out to be a bigger problem for the Trump Administration than they had anticipated.

PWS

01/27/17

VOX News: Supreme Short List — Trump To Go With A U.S. Appeals Judge — Judges Gorsuch (10th C), Hardiman (3rd C), & Pryor (11th C) Top List!

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/24/14372842/donald-trump-supreme-court-gorsuch-hardiman-pryor

“Now, Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Shane Goldmacher report that Trump has narrowed the choices to three, all of whom are on federal appeals courts:

Neil Gorsuch, 49, of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Oklahoma)
Thomas Hardiman, 51, of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania)
William “Bill” Pryor, 54, of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Alabama, Georgia, and Florida)
Johnson and Goldmacher report that Gorsuch and Hardiman have an advantage and Pryor’s chances have waned.

All three finalists are white men appointed to their posts by George W. Bush, but they vary in background and in how contention [sic] their nominations would likely be.”

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Read full bios of all three judges at the above link.  Reportedly, after the Republicans “stonewalled” the Garland nomination, the Democrats are not going to be racing to complete the confirmation process for the late conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalias’s replacement. But, in the end, the Republicans have the votes to put President Trump’s nominee on the Court.  And, given that all three of these judges have been previously vetted and confirmed for prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals judgeships, barring any surprises, President Trump will get his choice.

Interestingly, I heard on a news report today that the average time lapse between formal nomination and confirmation for a Supreme Court Justice is 70 days.  Compare that the with the snail-paced hiring process for U.S. Immigration Judges who are Executive Branch employees and do not require Senate confirmation.

The U.S. Immigration Judge hiring process sometimes takes a year or more. While in the past judicial hiring was sometimes completed in 70 days or less, those days are long gone. What’s the deal here? Most of the recent Immigration Judge appointees have been from Government backgrounds and already had security clearances. And, background clearances, although important, are basically a ministerial/administrative process, not “rocket science.” With more than half a million pending cases and many judicial vacancies (which might or might not be frozen) there remarkably does not seem to be any sense of urgency in the DOJ/EOIR judicial hiring process. Go figure!

PWS

01/24/17

USG Bid To Max Criminal Deportation Law May Be On The Rocks Before The Supremes!

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-supreme-court-deport-burglars-20170117-story.html

David G. Savage writes in the L.A. Times:

“The law in this area is not entirely clear. Beginning in 1988, Congress ordered deportation for noncitizens who are convicted of an “aggravated felony,” and it cited specific examples such as murder and rape. Later the law was expanded to include a general category of “crimes of violence.” This was defined to include offenses that involve a use of physical force or a “substantial risk” that force would be used.

Judges have been divided as to what crimes call for deportation. Looming over Tuesday’s argument was an opinion written two years ago by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He spoke for an 8-to-1 majority in striking down part of a federal law known as the Armed Career Criminal Act. It called for extra years in prison for people convicted of more than one violent felony.

In that case, the extra prison term was triggered by the defendant’s possession of a shotgun. In frustration, Scalia and his colleagues said the law was unconstitutionally vague because they could not decide whether gun possession is itself evidence of a violent crime.

“You could say the exact same thing about burglary,” Justice Elena Kagan said Tuesday. A midday burglary of a home could result in violence, she said, but perhaps not if it were an empty garage or an abandoned house. “So it seems like we’re replicating the same kind of confusion,” she said.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said judges have no way to decide which crimes typically or usually involve violence. “We’re just left guessing,” he said, suggesting a better approach would be “look at what the person did.”

But Deputy Solicitor Gen. Edwin Kneedler said a home burglary poses a risk of violence. And he said the court should defer to the government on matters of immigration. The law, he said, calls for a “broad delegation” of authority to executive officials.

This is the argument government lawyers made in defense of President Obama’s use of executive authority to try to shield millions of immigrants from deportation. It is also the argument that would call for upholding an aggressive deportation policy if pursued by the Trump administration.”

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Interesting juxtaposition here!  The key opinion relied on by the immigrant is an 8-1 decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), written by conservative judicial icon Justice Antonin Scalia in which he ripped apart on constitutional vagueness grounds a provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act that is virtually identical to the deportation statute.

The Obama Administration reacted by vigorously reasserting in the lower courts and the Immigration Courts its right to ignore Justice Scalia’s reasoning in the civil deportation context and continue to deport individuals convicted of residential burglary.

But, liberal judicial icon Judge Stephen Reinhardt and one of his colleagues on the Ninth Court of Appeals seized on Scalia’s opinion and applied it to the immigration law to block such deportations.  The Seventh Circuit followed suit, but the Fifth Circuit did not, thereby setting up a “circuit split” — something that often convinces the Supreme Court to exercise its discretionary authority to intervene by granting a “writ of certiorari.”

The case is Lynch v. Dimaya, No. 15-1498 which, as pointed out by David Savage, will soon morph into Sessions v. Dimaya.  Stay tuned for the results!

Did you know that:  The Government’s lawyer in Dimaya, career Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler, a friend and an outstanding public servant, has argued more than 125 U.S. Supreme Court cases during his distinguished Government career, more than any other living lawyer!  

Wow!  Most lawyers would feel lucky and privileged to argue a single case before the Supreme Court.  I know I sure would.  Just think of the hours of preparation spent in preparing to argue well over 100 cases!  

When I was Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel of the Legacy INS, I used to help the Solicitor General’s Office prepare for oral arguments in immigration cases.  So, I know how intensive the preparation process is.  

At least once, I was asked to sit with the Deputy SG arguing the case at counsel table in the Court.  That was as close as I ever got to appearing before the Court.  

I remember one case that I observed — I can’t remember if I was at counsel table or in the audience — was the immigration classic INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987) establishing the generous “well-founded fear = reasonable likelihood” standard for asylum, which I ended up having to apply thousands of times as a trial and appellate judge in the Immigration Courts.  That day, however, we were on the “losing” side of the argument, having presented the case for a more stringent standard.  Nevertheless, I think the Court got it completely right.  

The “winning” lawyer before the Court that day was a young immigration attorney from San Francisco, Dana Marks Keener, now known as Judge Dana Leigh Marks of the San Francisco Immigration Court and the President of the National Association of Immigration Judges.  Since then, of course, Dana and I have become judicial colleagues and great friends.  I often refer to her as “the founding mother of modern U.S. asylum law.”

Small world.

PWS

01/18/17