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Supreme Court rejects plea to reconsider Obama’s immigration plan

The Supreme Court also declined to hear more than 1,000 petitions seeking review in cases that had piled up during the justices’ summer break, including one in the James “Whitey” Bulger case.
The Supreme Court also declined to hear more than 1,000 petitions seeking review in cases that had piled up during the justices’ summer break, including one in the James “Whitey” Bulger case.Yuri Gripas/Reuters

WASHINGTON — A short-handed Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from the Obama administration to reconsider a major immigration decision, dooming for now President Obama’s plan to spare millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

The court also declined to hear more than 1,000 petitions seeking review in cases that had piled up during the justices’ summer break.

Among them were ones concerning what college athletes may earn, the Washington Redskins’ trademarks, and a campaign finance investigation in Wisconsin. Adhering to its custom, the court did not give reasons for turning down the cases.

The request that the justices rehear the immigration case came after a deadlock in the case in June. The 4-to-4 tie left in place an appeals court ruling that had blocked Obama’s plan, which also would have allowed the unauthorized immigrants to work legally in the United States.

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The Supreme Court has been without its standard nine members since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. The tie vote in the case, United States v. Texas, set no precedent. The court did not disclose how the justices had voted.

The administration’s petition seeking rehearing said a matter of such importance should be resolved by a nine-member Supreme Court, which “should be the final arbiter of these matters through a definitive ruling.”

The administration acknowledged that the immigration case was at an early stage and could again reach the court in a later appeal.

But the petition said there was a “strong need for definitive resolution by this court at this stage.”

In other action Monday:

■  The Supreme Court declined to reopen a long-stalled investigation into Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 campaign against a recall effort, permanently ending a inquiry that had dogged the Wisconsin Republican even as he launched a brief presidential bid last year.

Justices left in place a year-old Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that shut down the so-called John Doe investigation into whether Walker illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups.

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Walker, who won reelection in 2014 and is up for a third term in 2018, declined to comment immediately on Monday through his spokesman, Joe Fadness. The governor, who has been working to prepare Governor Mike Pence of Indiana for the vice presidential debate on Tuesday, had no public events planned.

The prosecutors’ request for Supreme Court review addressed two main questions: whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court had been too lax in policing coordination between candidates and independent groups, and whether two state Supreme Court justices who had benefited from campaign spending should have recused themselves.

In a brief urging the US Supreme Court not to hear the case, the state’s attorney general, Brad D. Schimel, said the Wisconsin Legislature had codified the state Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law, meaning that there was nothing to review.

■  The high court declined to hear the cases of two death row inmates in Virginia who appealed their capital punishments. The cases involved a man convicted of killing a Richmond family and a man found guilty of hiring a man to kill his former girlfriend.

Ricky Javon Gray was convicted in the New Year’s Day 2006 stabbing and bludgeoning deaths of 49-year-old Bryan Harvey, 39-year-old Kathryn Harvey, and their daughters, 9-year-old Stella and 4-year-old Ruby. Bryan Harvey was a well-known Richmond musician, and his wife was co-owner of a toy store.

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The justices also declined to review the case of Ivan Teleguz, who claims his trial lawyers were inadequate. The lawyer for Teleguz said he will now ask Governor Terry McAuliffe to halt the execution.

■  The Supreme Court won’t hear Arizona’s appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned a convicted murderer’s death sentence and opened the door for other death row inmates in the state to challenge their sentences.

The justices Monday let stand the ruling that said Arizona unconstitutionally excluded evidence about James McKinney’s troubled childhood and post-traumatic stress disorder that might have led to a lesser punishment.

■  The high court won’t hear Florida’s appeal of a lower court ruling that threw out the death sentence of a Jacksonville man convicted of a 1984 murder.

The justices on Monday left in place an appeals court ruling that said John Gary Hardwick’s lawyer should have brought up evidence of his client’s troubled childhood and history of drug abuse that might have led to a lesser punishment.

■  The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from police officers challenging new restrictions on their ability to use Taser guns on people trying to resist arrest.