Fifth Circuit Blocks Border Law Enforcement

U.S. Supreme Court building | Photo by Mike Kline (notkalvin)/Getty Images

UPDATE 1 a.m. Wednesday

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision Tuesday night once again blocking the enforcement of SB4.

The court had previously issued an administrative stay on the law, which would have allowed Texas to enforce it, but gave the federal government time to appeal to the Supreme Court. Following yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court, which would have allowed Texas to enforce its new border law making unlawful entry into the state a crime, a majority of a panel from the Fifth Circuit voted to lift the administrative stay it had previously issued and set oral argument for March 20.

Judge Andrew Oldham dissented from the panel’s decision, stating that he would have left the stay in place “pending tomorrow’s oral argument on the question.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Supreme Court had denied a request from the federal government to place enforcement of the law on hold while it is being challenged in lower courts.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson each dissented from the Supreme Court’s ruling, with Sotomayor writing in her dissent that a lower court had already determined that the law was “likely unconstitutional.”

“The Court gives a green light to a law that will upend the longstanding federal-state balance of power and sow chaos,” she added, according to The Washington Post.

The ruling comes after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals placed an administrative stay on the law to allow Texas to enforce it, leading the federal government to file an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court to pause the law temporarily.

Justice Samuel A. Alito then placed a temporary pause on Texas’ ability to enforce the law while the Supreme Court reviewed the emergency appeal from the federal government, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The temporary pause was then extended by Alito on Monday to give the Court a chance to review the federal government’s appeal the following day.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, alongside Justice Brett Kavanaugh, wrote in an opinion that the Supreme Court has “never reviewed the decision of a court of appeals to enter — or not enter — an administrative stay,” adding that the Court may eventually have to step in at some point.

“The time may come, in this case or another, when this Court is forced to conclude that an administrative stay has effectively become a stay pending appeal and review it accordingly. But at this juncture in this case, that conclusion would be premature,” they concluded, per The Hill.

The case is now set to return to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, with oral arguments scheduled for April 3.

After the Fifth Circuit ruling, whichever side loses can file an appeal with the Supreme Court to hear the case.

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