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Supreme Court Removes Two High-Profile Trump Immigration Cases That Biden Wanted Dropped


Elections have consequences—even for U.S. Supreme Court scheduling matters.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court agreed to remove two cases from its argument calendar involving Trump administration immigration policies that President Joe Biden’s White House does not wish to defend.

That means calling off what would have been the first anticipated oral arguments of 2021: Biden v. Sierra Club, featuring the storied environmental group’s fight against the funding for President Donald Trump‘s U.S.-Mexico border wall. Filing suit in 2019, the Sierra Club challenged the White House’s diversion of billions in counter-drug funding to border-wall construction.

Reversing marquee Trump immigration policies since Day One, the Biden administration followed up on a spate of executive actions on the issue with a formal request to the high court that the case be removed from the Feb. 22 oral argument schedule.

The Supreme Court also removed the case challenging Trump’s “Remain-in-Mexico” policy from its calendar after the Biden administration requested the change. Under the program, also known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), refugees and asylum-seekers are shorn from U.S. constitutional safeguards for due process and access to counsel by being left South of the border indefinitely while their asylum applications are processed. Legal challenges to Remain-in-Mexico last came before SCOTUS in March 2o2o, when the high court ruled to stay the Ninth Circuit’s injunction temporarily halting the program while litigation proceeded.

At the time, the Trump-loyalist Texan Sen. Ted Cruz hailed the temporary ruling as a significant success for the administration’s hard-right immigration agenda.

Regardless of whether a conservative Supreme Court would have found the policy legally defensible, the current administration will not advocate for it or allow for a precedent that could stand in the way of Biden’s recently announced plans for immigration reform.

Applauding that call, the American Civil Liberties Union urged Biden to take follow-up action.

The pair of cases represents a major shift in immigration policy under President Biden. Both border-wall construction and MPP were hot-button immigration issues starting during the Trump campaign and continuing to pervade his presidency.

[image via Samuel Corum/Getty Images]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos