A federal appeals court said President Obama’s own words saying he was claiming powers to “change the law” were part of the reason it struck down his deportation amnesty, in a ruling late Monday that reaffirmed the president must carry out laws and doesn’t have blanket powers to waive them.
The 2-1 ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals punctures Mr. Obama’s immigration plans and is the latest in a series of major court rulings putting limits on the president’s claims of expansive executive powers to enact his agenda without having to get congressional buy-in.
In an opinion freighted with meaning for the separation of powers battles, Judge Jerry E. Smith, writing for himself and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, singled out Mr. Obama’s own claim that he acted to rewrite the law because Congress wouldn’t pass the bill he wanted.
The key remark came in a speech in Chicago just days after his Nov. 20, 2014, announcement detailing his executive actions. Fed up with a heckler who was chiding him for boosting the number of deportations, Mr. Obama fired back, agreeing that he’d overseen a spike in deportations.
“But what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” the president said.
The two judges said the Justice Department failed to explain away Mr. Obama’s remarks.
“At oral argument, and despite being given several opportunities, the attorney for the United States was unable to reconcile that remark with the position that the government now takes,” Judge Smith wrote.
Whether Mr. Obama acted within the law is the crux of the case.
Read more: The Washington Times