The two judges who helped to further postpone the executive actions taken by President Barack Obama on immigration reform last month will again play a vital role in making the decision as to whether or not the President’s actions are legal.
Fifth Circuit Judges Jerry Smith and Jennifer Walker Elrod, both Republicans, ruled last month to deny the Obama administration’s request to allow the deferred action programs, which would protect over four million undocumented immigrants from being deported, while the proposals in the program went through the court system. On the 10th of July the same judges will also be present to hear lawyers from the Justice Department and officials from 26 states argue in a suit aimed at stopping the programs from going ahead while the broader case is taken up by the Fifth Circuit.
Smith’s and Elrod’s selection has come as something of a surprise to many observers, who expected that the wider legal issues would be decided by a different trio of judges, but the choice of the two suggests that the Obama administration’s chances of victory at the Fifth Circuit are very slim indeed, increasing the likelihood that the case will end up going all the way to the Supreme Court, possibly during election year, according to veteran immigration attorney and former American Immigration Lawyers Association president, David Leopold.
“The merits are broader, but we know exactly where this court is going,” Leopold notes. “Smith’s and Elrod’s opinion pretty much mirrors what Judge Andrew Hanen did, absent the political diatribes.”