Blog

State Standing in United States v. Texas Could be Key Issue

Photo of Benny Agosto

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas, a suit in which Texas along with twenty-five other states are challenging the Obama administration's initiatives, announced back in November 2014, deferring removal of millions of unauthorized immigrants. The policies in question, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+), raise numerous questions about immigration law. However, one of the most important issues in the case - whether Texas has standing to challenge these initiatives at all - transcends immigration law and could be the deciding factor in this high-stakes dispute. So while the decision in United States v. Texas will be monumental within immigration law, it will also allow the Court to settle major questions about the role of the states in monitoring federal law enforcement policies.

Many arguments as to the role of states in challenging federal law have risen and been reevaluated since the Supreme Court's 2007 decision holding that Massachusetts had standing to sue the EPA for its refusal to regulate greenhouse gasses. The biggest concern has largely been that some limits must be put in place, or else state attorneys general could force the courts to address almost any change in federal enforcement policy, dragging the courts into political battles between states and the federal government. One argument put forth from the Cornell Law Review argues that states can challenge federal laws and practices that preempt or undermine continued enforceability of state law, but should have "no special standing to ensure that federal agencies properly implement federal law" as they don't have the proper expertise regarding the United States as a whole. If interpreted this way, Texas would only have standing in contention of federal laws requiring it to change its treatment of deferred-action recipients, not specifically for non-enforcement.

A University of Richmond Law Review article reaches the same conclusion but through a different analysis. It concludes that states lack standing to sue when challenging the enforcement of laws that may affect their citizens when they do not expressly bind the states themselves. Under that standard, Texas lacks standing to challenge Obama's immigration initiatives because its alleged injury - the cost of providing driver's licenses to deferred-action recipients - is self-inflicted and not imposed by federal law. A University of California Hastings College of the Law Review article contrarily suggests employing the political-question doctrine to help decide the proper role. Under this theory, judicial review would be barred when the Constitution's text assigns the question to the political branches or when there are no judicially manageable standards for a court to apply. This would allow Texas to review Obama's deferred-action initiatives for consistency with existing immigration law, past practice, and congressional ratification. If found to be beyond judicial review under this analysis, then administrations' major decisions to forgo enforcement of environmental, tax, or firearms regulation would be too, causing a large regulatory upheaval.

Despite their differences, all of these scholars would agree that Texas's standing remains a crucial issue in this case that the Court must address before it even reaches the legality of the president's deferred-action initiatives. A final ruling by the Court is expected in June.

Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories