43 Senate Republicans Sign Supreme Court Brief Against Executive Amnesty, 11 GOPers Sit Out

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, Monday, March 7, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Many Senate Republicans are offering their support to the 26 states challenging the president’s executive amnesty programs. They’re filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court arguing Obama’s November 2014 unilateral actions are in violation of the “spirit” of immigration law and a threat to the separation of powers.

“Given that the Executive has asserted that the acts challenged here are not even subject to judicial review, what is at stake in this matter is nothing less than an effort to supplant Congress’s constitutional power to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.’ Such an action stands in stark contravention to federal law and to the constitutional principle of the separation of powers,” the Senators’ brief reads.

It adds, “There is little doubt that the Executive adopted the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (‘DAPA’) program as part of an explicit effort to circumvent the legislative process.”

Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 43 GOP senators signed on to the brief. The names of 11 senators were noticeably absent from the list, many of whom are up for reelection in relatively tough November races, including Sen. Mark Kirk (R-CO), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) also did not sign the brief.

Twenty-six states, led by Texas, have challenged the Obama administration’s executive amnesty programs, designed to offer pseudo-legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. To-date the states have been successful in their challenge in lower courts. A federal district court in Brownsville, Texas initially blocked the programs and in November the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the preliminary injunction.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge in January. Oral arguments before the high court are slated for April 18.


In a statement provided after publication, Sen. Portman’s spokesman Kevin Smith stressed Portman’s opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty.

“Rob doesn’t often sign amicus briefs but he certainly supports the intent of this one,” Smith said. “He agrees that the President’s unilateral actions were unconstitutional, and trusts that the Supreme Court will affirm the decision of the Fifth Circuit striking it down.”


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