Supreme Court Speeds Up Timeline on DACA Case(1)

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By Laura D. Francis

The U.S. Supreme Court is speeding up the timeline for the lawsuit over the Trump administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The individuals, organizations, and government bodies suing the administration now have until Feb. 2 to file their briefs opposing Supreme Court review. They originally had until Feb. 20.

The expedited schedule allows the court to decide as early as Feb. 16 whether it will hear the case.

The Justice Department Jan. 18 asked the justices to determine whether the administration had the authority to end DACA. The next day, the DOJ asked for expedited consideration of the case because of its “imperative public importance” and “urgent need for a prompt resolution.”

The administration originally proposed Jan. 31 as the deadline for a response to its Supreme Court petition, but it agreed to Feb. 2 as long as the later date would still allow time for the justices to consider the case during their Feb. 16 conference.

Justices Already Involved

The justices already have waded into the lawsuit, issuing an order preventing the lower courts from requiring the Department of Homeland Security to turn over documents related to the decision to end DACA.

The DOJ’s request goes beyond the documents, asking the court to decide the merits of the case before a federal district court judge has had the opportunity to do so. Questions include whether it was reasonable for the Homeland Security and Justice departments to believe DACA would be struck down by the courts, as well as whether DACA recipients’ due process and equal protection rights were violated when the program was terminated.

In a separate lawsuit over driver’s licenses for DACA recipients, the justices asked the Trump administration for its views on the matter before determining whether to take the case. The administration never filed a brief, and the court never heard arguments, many of which related to the legality of DACA.

The case essentially could become moot if Congress is able to reach an agreement on the legal status for the young, undocumented immigrants covered by the DACA program. Democratic senators Jan. 22 agreed to end a standoff that shut down the federal government for three days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised to hold a vote on immigration legislation.

DACA was terminated Sept. 5, 2017, but a federal judge in California Jan. 9 ordered that the DHS resume processing DACA renewals. In addition to petitioning the Supreme Court, the DOJ also has appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The DOJ additionally has appealed to the Second Circuit in a separate case also challenging DACA’s termination.

The case is Dep’t of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal. , U.S., No. 17-1003, order 1/23/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura D. Francis in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at

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