A fiercely divided Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Friday to lift an order filed by San Francisco District Judge William Alsup requiring the Trump administration to produce documents outlining the decision to end theDeferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The documents the order sought included “emails, departmental memoranda, policy directives, meeting minutes, materials considered by Secretary Duke’s subordinates, communications from White House officials or staff, communications from the Department of Justice, and communications between DHS and state authorities.”
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan voted against; Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch voted in favor.
Unsurprisingly, all who voted against are Democrats, while those who voted in favor are Republicans. All three women justices sit on the blue side of the aisle.
Fifteen states, several DACA recipients, and the University of California are suing the government over the decision to end the Obama-era program, and Judge Alsup issued the order for additional documents arguing that the Trump administration could not say they had to rescind DACA “because it exceeded the lawful authority of the agency” while simultaneously refusing to disclose “the legal research that led to that conclusion.”
Had Alsup’s order been upheld, officials would have had to review roughly 1.6 million documents by December 22, which Trump’s camp insisted would have taken up too much of the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department’s resources.
Justice Brayer, joined by the other three Democratic judges, issued a 10-page dissent following the court’s ruling. “In my view, the Government’s arguments do not come close to carrying the heavy burden that the Government bears in seeking such extraordinary relief,” Breyer wrote.
He further added that, “The Government also complains about the burden imposed by the District Court’s order, but that argument is also beside the point. The Government complains that it must review 21,000 documents as potentially part of the administrative record. But the underlying agency action here is important, and that is by no means an unusually large number of documents; administrative records often contain hundreds of thousands of documents.”
After Monday’s ruling allowing Trump’s travel ban to take full effect, this is the second major blow the Supreme Court deals immigrants in just one week.