By a five to four vote, the US Supreme Court held that that Trump administration can temporarily shield documents regarding its decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Supreme Court will hear further arguments in the matter.
The decision arose from five consolidated cases in California accusing the administration of violating the law when it rescinded DACA. Four states (California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota) and Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama who signed the original DACA document in 2012, filed suit.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the administration’s decision to terminate DACA based only on 256 pages of publicly available documents inadequate to shed light on a decision of great magnitude. The government argued that the decision was a departure from the separation-of-powers doctrine and the deference that the judiciary normally accorded to federal agency actions. The government also stated that it would be an unreasonable burden to review approximately 21,000 page of documents.
Writing for the Supreme Court’s dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer expressed concern that its abandonment of nonintervention in this discovery-related dispute would not only disrupt litigation but lead to more requests for the Court to address banal discovery disputes. He also noted that in order to have effective review the administrative record must contain all of the relevant documents.