One of the most conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court just handed President Joe Biden a stunning legal victory.
The Associated Press reports that Justice Samuel Alito issued a “temporary stay” late Friday to block a lower court’s ruling that had required the Biden administration to continue to enforce the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy.
The policy, implemented by former President Donald Trump and known formally as the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), forces migrants seeking asylum to wait outside U.S. borders while their claims are processed, according to the AP.
The shock SCOTUS ruling marks a legal win for the White House, which had just been denied an appeal the day prior, reports note.
A victory in the lower courts
Biden, for his part, had moved to dissolve the MPP upon taking office in January. Soon after, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally ended the program.
Since then, a legal battle has broken out, with Texas and Missouri — both Republican states — leading the way in trying to get the Trump-backed policy reinstated.
They thought they’d won earlier this month when a federal judge handed them a win requiring the Biden administration to continue enforcing the policy, as the AP reported. But as of Friday, Justice Alito has wiped the books clean.
Alito’s temporary stay will allow the Biden administration to avoid enforcing the policy until Tuesday, giving the Supreme Court’s justices time to consider the case, according to USA Today.
Biden wins this time
Arguing in favor of the move by Alito, the administration had said Biden has “clear authority to determine immigration policy,” the AP reported.
The White House also reportedly argued that reinstating the MPP “would prejudice the United States’ relations with vital regional partners, severely disrupt its operations at the southern border, and threaten to create a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis.”
“Relief from this Court is both urgently needed and amply justified,” the Biden administration said, according to USA Today.
Alito apparently agreed. But as one of the staunchest conservatives on the bench, it’s certainly a surprise to see a decision like this coming from him.