Legal Battle Over Texas Border Law Likely to Reach Supreme Court, Says Constitutional Law Expert

A Dallas constitutional law expert predicts that the federal border lawsuit between the Biden administration and the state of Texas will eventually reach the Supreme Court. The lawsuit, filed by the Biden administration, seeks to strike down SB 4, a law set to take effect in March. SB 4 makes it a state crime for undocumented migrants to cross the border between ports of entry, based on existing trespass laws. First-time offenders would face a Class B Misdemeanor charge, which could increase to a Felony for repeat offenses. However, migrants can avoid jail time by accepting a ride back to a border bridge and returning to Mexico.

According to constitutional law expert David Coale, this legal battle echoes a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that struck down an Arizona deportation law. Coale believes that this case challenges the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the United States v. Arizona more directly than any other case in recent years.

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, in response to the federal lawsuit, criticized the Biden administration’s border policy, stating that it is detrimental to the country. Abbott mentioned that his state is already involved in three legal actions with the Biden administration over illegal entry into the country. He claimed that if the administration focused on securing the border rather than impeding Texas from doing so, there would be no issue.

The dispute regarding SB 4 poses a larger question about the distribution of powers between states and the federal government. Coale highlighted the historical aspect of this debate, questioning whether states have always had the authority to enact such laws or if this falls strictly within the federal government’s jurisdiction granted by the Constitution.

This new Texas law does not exactly function as a traditional deportation law. Instead, it provides an option for judges to offer undocumented migrants caught crossing the border: either return to the border bridge or face imprisonment. Coale finds this distinction interesting, as it deviates from the guidance provided by previous Supreme Court rulings.

In addition to the federal lawsuit, there is an ongoing legal challenge by immigration advocates against the Texas law. It remains to be seen if these cases will be consolidated or proceed separately.

Coale believes that the Biden administration will likely secure an initial victory in the Austin court, which would set the stage for an appeal to the Supreme Court. The key question is whether the federal courts will allow SB 4 to take effect in March or issue a restraining order to halt its enforcement. The outcome of this legal battle could have significant implications for the balance of power between states and the federal government in matters of immigration.

In summary, the Biden administration’s federal lawsuit against Texas over SB 4, a law criminalizing undocumented migrants’ border crossings, is expected to be decided by the Supreme Court. Legal experts anticipate that this case will challenge the previous Supreme Court ruling on an Arizona deportation law. Governor Abbott criticized the Biden administration’s border policy but voiced confidence that Texas will prevail in the legal disputes. The constitutionality of SB 4 raises fundamental questions about the division of powers between the state and federal government. The outcome of this legal battle will determine whether the law takes effect in March or faces a restraining order.