Biden to Supreme Court: Judges Cannot Strike Down Agency Actions

The Biden administration argued in a Supreme Court immigration case Tuesday that states have no standing to sue the federal government over illegal immigration policies, and courts lack the power to strike them down anyway.

Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas and Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana sued the Biden administration over immigration policy, arguing that so-called enforcement guidelines as developed and administered by the Justice Department and Homeland Security Department violate certain provisions of federal law.

The states – joined by three dozen more states filing supporting briefs – sued under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which in 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), authorizes judges to “hold unlawful and set aside” – which means to vacate – agency actions that are arbitrary, capricious, “or otherwise not in accordance with law.” It is the law most commonly used to sue federal agencies for acting inconsistently with federal statutes passed by Congress.

At issue are provisions of immigration law where Congress in 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) said authorities “shall detain” aliens who are convicted of aggravated felonies. But the Biden administration issued a guidance memo saying that instead aliens should be detained only if the agency determines they are a threat to public safety, listing various factors for making that determination.

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