SCOTUS Gives POTUS a Policy Pass

Happy Tuesday! And congratulations to Scooter, the weirdest-looking dog at the 2023 Sonoma-Marin Fair. “Ugly is in the eye of the beholder,” the local news writeup read. “And the judges beheld Scooter.”

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • In his first public remarks since his forces abruptly ended their march toward Moscow Saturday, Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said Monday his aim was not to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin, but to ensure the survival of his private military company—set to be brought under Russian defense ministry control or else disbanded by July 1. Prigozhin added Belarus, where he’s reportedly being exiled, will allow Wagner to continue operations. Putin also spoke publicly about the weekend’s events on Monday, saying the “organizers”—he didn’t name Prigozhin—would be “brought to justice” while Wagner soldiers themselves were free to go to Belarus. President Joe Biden told reporters Monday that the United States and its allies had nothing to do with Wagner’s mutiny.
  • As Russia continues to grapple with the aftermath of that rebellion, Ukraine has gained new ground in its counteroffensive. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, the country’s forces on Monday retook control of Rivnopil, a village in southeastern Ukraine that was largely destroyed during its Russian occupation. Rivnopil is reportedly the ninth village Ukraine has recaptured since its counteroffensive campaign began this spring.
  • CNN on Monday obtained an audio recording of former President Donald Trump’s July 2021 conversation with ghostwriters for a political memoir in which he allegedly shared classified material related to U.S. military plans vis-a-vis Iran. “I have a big pile of papers,” Trump says as documents can be heard rustling. “[The Pentagon] presented me this.” The audio—which is expected to play a major role in special counsel Jack Smith’s case against Trump—also includes the former president acknowledging that the material he’s discussing is “highly confidential” and that he hadn’t declassified it before leaving office.
  • The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the state of Louisiana Monday, reinstating a lower court ruling requiring Louisiana state legislators to redraw congressional districts to create a second majority black district. The ruling follows a similar case the Supreme Court decided earlier this month that reinforced the provisions in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act protecting the voting power of racial minorities. The high court also declined to take up a case regarding a challenge to a North Carolina charter school’s dress code, leaving in place a lower court ruling that said the dress code requiring girls to wear skirts violated federal law.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled an expansive immigration policy agenda during a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday. DeSantis’ plans include ending birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S., completing the wall along the southern border, keeping asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases are pending, and reserving the right to deploy U.S. troops to Mexico to combat drug cartels.
  • John Goodenough, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist who helped create the lithium-ion battery, died Sunday at 100 years old. He was the oldest Nobel laureate in history, winning the prize at age 97, and his contributions to the rechargeable lithium-ion battery paved the way for countless devices and machines that have since become ubiquitous.

SCOTUS’ Discretion on Discretion

An ICE agent monitors hundreds of asylum seekers being processed in New York. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
An ICE agent monitors hundreds of asylum seekers being processed in New York. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Supreme Court justices may be saving the juiciest cases for last—we’re on high alert for news later this morning—but that doesn’t mean there haven’t already been plenty of interesting verdicts handed down this month. On Friday, for example, an overwhelmingly united Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that officials in Texas and Louisiana don’t have standing to challenge what they consider the Biden administration’s lax immigration enforcement guidelines.

At issue was a September 2021 memo issued by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directing immigration authorities—theoretically tasked with deporting the millions of people in the United States illegally—to prioritize for removal only those undocumented immigrants who threaten national security, public safety, or border security. “The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them,” Mayorkas wrote in the guidelines. “We will use our discretion and focus our enforcement resources in a more targeted way. Justice and our country’s well-being require it.”

The Biden administration’s approach represented a break from its immediate predecessor—Donald Trump ordered federal agencies in 2017 not to “exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement”—but Mayorkas was not the first official to set priorities for removal of non-citizens. “Because the agency is confronted with more administrative violations than its resources can address, the agency must regularly exercise ‘prosecutorial discretion’ if it is to prioritize its efforts,” Obama-era Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton wrote in 2011.

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