Super Stupid

The Texas Anti-Refugee Lawsuit Was Thrown Out of Court

MessWithTexas
JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The lawsuit filed by the Abbott administration aimed at blocking any refugees from being resettled in Texas has been thrown out of court.

If Texas had an attorney general who isn't a batshit fraudster this would have been obvious, but it was left to Judge David Godbey to remind the state that it does not have the authority to block resettlement.

U.S. District Judge David Godbey ruled the U.S. government, not individual states, has the authority to set immigration policy, and found that Texas brought no plausible argument to back its claims that the International Rescue Committee relief agency was unlawful in bringing Syrian refugees into the state. [...]

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission had argued that the federal government and the relief agency violated their statutory duty under a law called the U.S. Refugee Act to consult with the state in advance of placing refugees in Texas.

"The Court previously determined that the Refugee Act does not confer a private right of action for the States to enforce its provisions," Godbey wrote.

We're all familiar with the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution which states that federal law is the supreme law of the land, but the above passage that I've highlighted is key to understanding just how fucking stupid this lawsuit filed by the Abbott administration was.

Texas argued that the federal government did not meet an obligation to consult the state, but the state did not want to be consulted. The state refused to work with the federal government.

How can the federal government meet a non-existent obligation to consult the state if the state refuses to consult?

As Judge Godbey pointed out in his ruling, the federal government isn't actually obligated to do that.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Now if only Texas would investigate the $35,000 Trump paid to the previous AG to not sue his fake university.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    I’d have to read the whole ruling, but what’s quoted here does not indicate that “the federal government isn’t actually obligated to” “consult with the state in advance of placing refugees in Texas.”

    The judge’s ruling doesn’t say that; it says that the law in question “does not confer a private right of action for the States to enforce its provisions.” That’s a very different animal.

    What it means is that regardless of what the U.S. Refugee Act requires or compels the federal government to do or not do, it is not for the states or any individual state to run to court and complain when the federal government doesn’t meet its obligations. In other words, the state has no standing to sue, to privately enforce the provisions of the Act.

    In other words, the federal government may well be obligated to consult with the state, but the state has no right to sue if it fails or refuses to do so.

    • JMAshby

      the federal government may well be obligated to consult with the state, but the state has no right to sue if it fails or refuses to do so

      As I understand it, the resettlement of refugees is at the discretion of the federal government. Texas is not the first state to file a similar lawsuit and others turned out exactly how this one did. In either case, to say the state has no standing is effectively the same thing as saying the federal government has no obligation, at least from my perspective as a layman. I understand that may not be exact legalese.

      As I said, it’s a bit of a misnomer because the state had no intention of participating or consulting anyway.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        The fact that the state has no standing does not mean the federal government has no obligation. It only means the fed’s obligation is not owed to the state. There may be another enforcement mechanism in the statute.

        • JMAshby

          Here’s some analysis from Millhiser over at TP, I rely on his analysis pretty regularly here http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/11/16/3722628/no-state-governors-cant-refuse-to-accept-syrian-refugees/

          Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the president may admit refugees who face “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” into the United States, and the president’s power to do so is particularly robust if they determine that an “unforeseen emergency refugee situation” such as the Syrian refugee crisis exists.

          This power to admit refugees fits within the scheme of “broad discretion exercised by immigration officials” that the Supreme Court recognized in its most recent major immigration case, Arizona v. United States.

          • GrafZeppelin127

            OK, but that article doesn’t say anything about whether the Refugee Act obligates the federal government to consult with the states. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. All I’m saying is, the fact that the states have no right to sue if the fed doesn’t consult them, does not by itself mean that the fed has no obligation to do that.

  • muselet

    The Texas attorney general’s office was not immediately available for comment.

    This is unsurprising, since David Godbey—correctly—kicked its collective arse off its collective spine. The AG’s office got off easy.

    If they haven’t already, the cries of “liberal activist judge!” will be deafening (for the record, Judge Godbey was nominated to the Northern District of Texas by George W Bush).

    –alopecia