A Trump win: For now, he can withhold green cards from foreigners on welfare

Under federal law, foreigners in America may not receive green cards if they have used or will use social services.  Of late, that law has been honored more in the breach than the observance.

President Trump, however, announced that his administration will enforce the law as written, resulting in a leftist rush to various friendly federal district courts.  Some of them issued injunctions affecting not just the claimants, but the whole nation.

On Monday, the Supreme Court reversed the injunctions, allowing Trump's administration to enforce the law as written until such time as the courts have a chance to look at the substantive merits.  In addition, in a separate concurrence, Justice Gorsuch strongly rebuked lower courts for issuing nationwide injunctions.

The law at issue is clear.  Under 8 USCA §1182(a)(4) (also known as §212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act), a law in effect for over 100 years, the class of aliens ineligible for visas or admission includes:

... [a]ny alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.

As soon as the Trump administration announced that it would enforce the law as written, immigrant rights groups promptly protested that doing so is unfair to foreign nationals in need of welfare and that reversing decades of ignoring the law would confuse people.  Rather than petitioning Congress to change the law, they rushed to courts in New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, and Washington.

When the Second Circuit affirmed the ruling out of New York, the Trump administration filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court.  On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in the administration's favor along 5-4 lines, reversing the nationwide injunction.  If Hillary had been president and appointed Merrick Garland and someone else, the ruling would have gone the other way.

Amusingly, über-left Slate titled its article about the decision, "The Supreme Court Lets Trump Punish Immigrants Who May Be a 'Public Charge.'"  Slate and Mark Joseph Stern, who wrote the article, seem to have no concern whatsoever for the innocent taxpayers who are responsible for paying for that alien who is illegally a "public charge."  But leftists never care about ordinary working Americans, do they?

In his separately issued concurrence, Justice Gorsuch addressed the fact that the "plaintiffs ... urged courts to enjoin the rule's enforcement not only as it applies to them, or even to some definable group having something to do with their claimed injury, but as it applies to anyone."  As to some courts, this petition was successful; as to others, it was not.

These differences sound confusing, but Gorsuch sarcastically noted that there was no confusion:

Despite the fluid state of things — some interim wins for the government over here, some preliminary relief for plaintiffs over there — we now have an injunction to rule them all: the one before us, in which a single judge in New York enjoined the government from applying the new definition to anyone, without regard to geography or participation in this or any other lawsuit.

Even as he applauded the Court's decision to lift the injunction, Gorsuch decried the fact that it had to decide such an issue in the first place:

The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcends the cases before them. Whether framed as injunctions of "nationwide," "universal," or "cosmic" scope, these orders share the same basic flaw — they direct how the defendant must act toward persons who are not parties to the case.

The problem is that equitable remedies are meant for the parties before the court, not for the world at large.  Overreaching remedies aren't merely impractical; they have serious constitutional implications:

But when a court goes further than that, ordering the government to take (or not take) some action with respect to those who are strangers to the suit, it is hard to  see how the court could still be acting in the judicial role of resolving cases and controversies. Injunctions like these thus raise serious questions about the scope of courts' equitable powers under Article III.

Unfortunately, Gorsuch did not (or could not) go so far as to issue consequences to the judges involved in the green card cases. All he could do was issue a warning:

It has become increasingly apparent that this Court must, at some point, confront these important objections to this increasingly widespread practice. As the brief and furious history of the regulation before us illustrates, the routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable, sowing chaos for litigants, the government, courts, and all those affected by these conflicting decisions. *** This is not normal. Universal injunctions have little basis in traditional equitable practice. *** Their use has proliferated only in very recent years. And they hardly seem an innovation we should rush to embrace. By their nature, universal injunctions tend to force judges into making rushed, high-stakes, low-information decisions.

It's to be hoped that, with Gorsuch having issued this warning, the Supreme Court issues a definitive opinion on the subject, one that clearly prevents lower courts from overreaching their Article III authority.

Under federal law, foreigners in America may not receive green cards if they have used or will use social services.  Of late, that law has been honored more in the breach than the observance.

President Trump, however, announced that his administration will enforce the law as written, resulting in a leftist rush to various friendly federal district courts.  Some of them issued injunctions affecting not just the claimants, but the whole nation.

On Monday, the Supreme Court reversed the injunctions, allowing Trump's administration to enforce the law as written until such time as the courts have a chance to look at the substantive merits.  In addition, in a separate concurrence, Justice Gorsuch strongly rebuked lower courts for issuing nationwide injunctions.

The law at issue is clear.  Under 8 USCA §1182(a)(4) (also known as §212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act), a law in effect for over 100 years, the class of aliens ineligible for visas or admission includes:

... [a]ny alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.

As soon as the Trump administration announced that it would enforce the law as written, immigrant rights groups promptly protested that doing so is unfair to foreign nationals in need of welfare and that reversing decades of ignoring the law would confuse people.  Rather than petitioning Congress to change the law, they rushed to courts in New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, and Washington.

When the Second Circuit affirmed the ruling out of New York, the Trump administration filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court.  On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in the administration's favor along 5-4 lines, reversing the nationwide injunction.  If Hillary had been president and appointed Merrick Garland and someone else, the ruling would have gone the other way.

Amusingly, über-left Slate titled its article about the decision, "The Supreme Court Lets Trump Punish Immigrants Who May Be a 'Public Charge.'"  Slate and Mark Joseph Stern, who wrote the article, seem to have no concern whatsoever for the innocent taxpayers who are responsible for paying for that alien who is illegally a "public charge."  But leftists never care about ordinary working Americans, do they?

In his separately issued concurrence, Justice Gorsuch addressed the fact that the "plaintiffs ... urged courts to enjoin the rule's enforcement not only as it applies to them, or even to some definable group having something to do with their claimed injury, but as it applies to anyone."  As to some courts, this petition was successful; as to others, it was not.

These differences sound confusing, but Gorsuch sarcastically noted that there was no confusion:

Despite the fluid state of things — some interim wins for the government over here, some preliminary relief for plaintiffs over there — we now have an injunction to rule them all: the one before us, in which a single judge in New York enjoined the government from applying the new definition to anyone, without regard to geography or participation in this or any other lawsuit.

Even as he applauded the Court's decision to lift the injunction, Gorsuch decried the fact that it had to decide such an issue in the first place:

The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcends the cases before them. Whether framed as injunctions of "nationwide," "universal," or "cosmic" scope, these orders share the same basic flaw — they direct how the defendant must act toward persons who are not parties to the case.

The problem is that equitable remedies are meant for the parties before the court, not for the world at large.  Overreaching remedies aren't merely impractical; they have serious constitutional implications:

But when a court goes further than that, ordering the government to take (or not take) some action with respect to those who are strangers to the suit, it is hard to  see how the court could still be acting in the judicial role of resolving cases and controversies. Injunctions like these thus raise serious questions about the scope of courts' equitable powers under Article III.

Unfortunately, Gorsuch did not (or could not) go so far as to issue consequences to the judges involved in the green card cases. All he could do was issue a warning:

It has become increasingly apparent that this Court must, at some point, confront these important objections to this increasingly widespread practice. As the brief and furious history of the regulation before us illustrates, the routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable, sowing chaos for litigants, the government, courts, and all those affected by these conflicting decisions. *** This is not normal. Universal injunctions have little basis in traditional equitable practice. *** Their use has proliferated only in very recent years. And they hardly seem an innovation we should rush to embrace. By their nature, universal injunctions tend to force judges into making rushed, high-stakes, low-information decisions.

It's to be hoped that, with Gorsuch having issued this warning, the Supreme Court issues a definitive opinion on the subject, one that clearly prevents lower courts from overreaching their Article III authority.