That Judge Who Ordered Trump To Keep DACA? SCOTUS Overturned His Immigration Rulings

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

Judge William Alsup of the federal district court in San Francisco, Calif., ordered the Trump administration to continue administering the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program late Tuesday.

Just two weeks ago, the Supreme Court overturned one of Alsup’s orders in a DACA-related controversy.

Alsup, a President Bill Clinton appointee, is presiding over the University of California’s (UC) legal challenge to DACA’s termination. UC’s chancellor is Janet Napolitano, the former secretary of homeland security who presided over DACA’s promulgation during the Obama administration.

In connection with that litigation, the judge issued a sweeping discovery order in October 2017 requiring the Trump administration to furnish all documents relating to DACA’s cancellation. The government previously provided some 250 records concerning its decision, but UC argued such a decision would have generated a larger body of work. The Department of Justice (DOJ) countered that many of those documents, like internal correspondence between federal officials, were subject to privilege.

Alsup disagreed, prompting an appeal which reached the Supreme Court in December.

In a 5-4 ruling issued Dec. 8, the justices temporarily lifted Alsup’s order, though the majority did not reveal its reasons for doing so. The order was fairly remarkable, as the Supreme Court does not generally involve itself in discovery disputes. The ruling provoked a short dissent from Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

In a second ruling issued two weeks later on Dec. 22, the high court ordered Alsup to reconsider two government arguments about the court’s power to review DACA’s termination before making a final determination on the shielded federal documents. The second ruling appears to be a compromise among the justices, as there were no noted dissents.

“The government makes serious arguments that at least portions of the district court’s order are overly broad,” the decision reads.

The administration can appeal Alsup’s Tuesday order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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