By Martina Stewart || USA TODAY
In a blow to the Biden administration’s ability to set the nation’s immigration policy, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the government could not halt the expulsion of migrants for public health reasons under the controversial Title 42 program.
That program, which has been in place since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, must continue while courts assess a lawsuit filed by Republican officials in 19 states who say that unwinding the Title 42 policy would unleash a national “catastrophe.”
The emergency intervention from the high court came days after the Trump-era program was set to expire. The justices announced they will hear arguments about the program in the upcoming year, but limited their review to whether the conservative states may intervene in the litigation. Oral arguments are expected in February. In the meantime, expulsions will continue.
The high court’s unsigned order noted that Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would have denied the emergency request from the states and allowed the administration to lift the Title 42 policy.
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented from the court’s ruling Tuesday, joined by Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The court’s decision on the states’ emergency request was “unwise,” Gorsuch wrote, adding. “The emergency on which those (Title 42) orders were premised has long since lapsed.”
“The only plausible reason for stepping in,” Gorsuch said, has to do with the states’ concerns about immigration and the situation on the border.
“But the current border crisis is not a COVID crisis,” Gorsuch added. “And courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency. We are a court of law, not policymakers of last resort.”