The Supreme Court is expected to render its ruling on whether President Trump can end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, some time between now and June 29, the last official day of the Court’s session.
The decision, when it is issued (or if it is issued) is not likely to touch on whether DACA is a constitutional program. Rather the case before the Court is about whether a sitting president (in this case, Donald Trump), has the authority to end an administrative policy instituted by a previous president (in this case, Barack Obama). The answer seems rather obvious, and in less tumultuous times, it would probably be an easy matter for the Court to decide.
The Supreme Court is supposed to stay above the fray of current political and social conditions and render decisions based on the Justices’ understanding of the Constitution. But we do not have political and social “conditions” right now; we have political and social turmoil. And while the nine jurists on the Court may be men and women of the highest integrity, they are nonetheless human beings who live in the real world.
It is that reality — the political and social tinderbox in which we are all living — that some are trying to exploit. The subtle appeal to the Supreme Court is to put the ruling on ice. “Given the ongoing pandemic and the national unrest over George Floyd’s killing, the Supreme Court should delay its decision on DACA,” editorialized the Dallas Morning News.
The not-so-subtle appeal comes in the form of threats and potential violence, something that the country could certainly do without right now. A headline on the Univision news site, reads “‘We are not going to be calm until the Supreme Court rules in favor of DACA,’ say dreamers.” While the article contains no explicit threats of rioting, it also contains no explicit disavowals of violence in response to a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the president.
Neither the subtle, nor not-so-subtle calls for the Supreme Court to delay or tailor its ruling is acceptable. The Court must not be deterred from issuing a definitive ruling on the important constitutional issue at hand. Moreover, a delay could well render the ruling on an important legal matter moot, as there is an election just five months away.
Even less acceptable would be for the theoretically nonpolitical branch of our federal government to cower before a mob. (There are plenty of people in the Legislative Branch and in state and local government already doing that.) No matter what decision the Supreme Court renders, it should be done now and those who are disappointed by the outcome must pursue their political aims peacefully, through the democratic process.