Supreme Court votes 5-4 to let Biden cut Texas border barrier

 January 23, 2024

After an appeals court ruling favored Texas in the ongoing fight between the Biden administration's open border policies and Texas's attempts to secure the border, the divided Supreme Court ruled 

As a report from Breitbart News outlined, the court issued a stay allowing agents of the Biden administration to open Texas's border barrier.

On Monday, the court voted five to four in favor of the Democrats, with two justices appointed by Republicans joining the Democrats. Litigation is still ongoing in the lower court.

On December 19, a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals had granted Texas's request for an injunction.

Lower Court's Decision

In his court-ordered explanation of the issue, Judge Kyle Duncan stated the court's reason for the ruling.

"The number of Border Patrol encounters with migrants illegally entering the country has swelled from a comparatively paltry 458,000 in 2020 to 1.7 million in 2021 and 2.4 million in 2022," the judge said

"Unsurprisingly, the situation has been exploited by drug cartels, who have made an incredibly lucrative enterprise out of trafficking human beings and illegal drugs like fentanyl, which is frequently encountered in vast quantities at the border."

The panel went on, saying "In 2021, Texas launched Operation Lone Star to aid the Border Patrol through allocation of state resources.

"The activity in question here is Texas’s laying of concertina wire along several sections of the riverfront. The c-wire serves as a deterrent—an effective one at that, causing illegal crossings to drop precipitously.

"By all accounts, Border Patrol is grateful for the assistance of Texas law enforcement, and the evidence shows the parties work cooperatively across the state, including in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley."

Texas' Case

Claiming trespass, a tort known as "trespass to chattels," and a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Texas sued to prevent federal authorities from cutting the border wire.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), under Attorney General Merrick Garland's leadership, sought dismissal of the lawsuit. Even states cannot sue the federal government or any of its agencies without Congress's explicit permission, as Duncan pointed out.

"Section 702's plain terms waive sovereign immunity for any suit seeking nonmonetary relief in federal court," the New Orleans-based appeals court reasoned, rejecting the DOJ's claim of immunity.

In addition to rejecting the DOJ's further arguments, the Fifth Circuit began by stating that the exclusive venue for tort claims in Texas is the federal government, as stated in the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

Since Texas had no intention of directly regulating Border Control or unfairly treating the federal government, the decision likewise rejected the DOJ's assertion of intergovernmental immunity.

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