The Biden administration won a Supreme Court victory on Jan. 22 and may resume helping illegals access Texas. Lone Star State officials will have to go back to the drawing board if they want to frustrate migrants’ attempts to cross the Rio Grande – for now. The Supreme Court order allows Border Patrol agents to destroy the razor wire barrier that state authorities installed to help stem the teeming tide of humanity crossing the border. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Court’s liberal bloc in granting the request.
Razor Wire Won’t Help Now
Not a final ruling on a case, the order comes from an emergency request by the federal government in its fight with Texas over illegal immigration. President Joe Biden’s policy is to allow migrants into the country, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tried to prevent the same. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in 2021 to help prevent the state from being overrun. The effort included installing razor wire fencing on state-owned land and private property with the landowner’s permission. Which Border Patrol agents cut down, per the Texas brief to the Supreme Court:
“As the district court documented in detail, video evidence shows federal agents ‘cutting multiple holes in the concertina wire for no apparent purpose other than to allow migrants easier entrance further inland.’”
Texas authorities attempted to use state law to stop the Border Patrol from destroying its property. The federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction prohibiting agents from cutting or moving the wire fencing. This ruling from the Supreme Court overturns the injunction, allowing federal authorities to destroy the fencing on private and state lands – at least until the full case is heard. The ruling doesn’t make a final decision on the facts; it is only about what actions are allowed while the case is making its way through the courts.
“Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, Justice Gorsuch, and Justice Kavanaugh would deny the application to vacate injunction [sic].”
We ordinarily wouldn’t know how Justices ruled on an order from an emergency application to vacate an injunction from a circuit court. Here, we do because those Justices named above wanted us to know. By process of elimination, we can see that Roberts and Coney Barrett joined Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in ruling in favor of the administration. No Justice had the Court publish a comment on the decision to grant or deny the motion, as sometimes happens. Now, the case returns to a hearing on the merits in the district court, presumably an appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and another go at the Supreme Court. Perhaps at that hearing, one or more Justices will decide differently than they did on this application.
Lone Star State Pushes Back
Abbott said after the Court’s ruling, “This is not over. Texas’ razor wire is an effective deterrent to the illegal crossings Biden encourages. I will continue to defend Texas’ constitutional authority to secure the border and prevent the Biden Admin from destroying our property.”