It was the first courtroom battle over President Obama’s executive amnesty plan — a battle waged by a sheriff whose clashes with the federal government over immigration enforcement have often been contentious.
And this battle didn’t turn out as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio wanted, though his lawyer says the war is far from over.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. Tuesday night threw out Sheriff Joe’s lawsuit seeking to stop Obama’s unilateral action to remove the threat of deportation from close to 5 million illegal immigrants.
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As reported on foxnews.com, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama nominee, tossed the case, saying that the role of the courts is not to engage in policy making:
The case brought by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio “raises important questions regarding the impact of illegal immigration on this nation, but the questions amount to generalized grievances which are not proper for the judiciary to address,” Howell wrote.
It’s critical to note that, in rejecting Sheriff Joe’s suit against the president, the judge refused to rule on the merits of the case — there was no determination whether Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform are or are not constitutional.
But that didn’t stop White House spokesman Eric Schultz from spinning the court’s decision and attempting to portray it as a vindication for President Obama. Again, via Fox News:
“Judge Howell’s decision today confirms what the Department of Justice and scholars throughout the country have been saying all along: the president’s executive actions on immigration are lawful,” Schultz said.
According to the judge’s written opinion — and contrary to what Obama’s spokesman indicated — the court made no ruling on the constitutionality of Obama’s action. Essentially, Judge Howell said that Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as a county law enforcement official in Arizona, didn’t have legal standing to bring the lawsuit.
“Even an ongoing threat to Arpaio by undocumented immigrants would not provide him with standing to challenge the deferred action programs at issue,” Howell wrote.
“The plaintiff must not only show that he is injured, but that the plaintiff’s injury is fairly traceable to the challenged deferred action programs and that the injury is capable of redress by this court in this action.”
Following the court’s rejection of his lawsuit, Sheriff Joe filed a notice of appeal saying that he will pursue the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.