Texas immigration law blocked again in 11th-hour legal whiplash – Washington Examiner

In a late-night turn of events, a Texas law that allows state police to arrest illegal immigrants was blocked again by an appeals court just hours after the Supreme Court allowed the measure to go into effect.

Hours after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to vacate a lower court stay against Texas’ Senate Bill 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit announced Tuesday night it would be weighing the Biden administration lawsuit against the law Wednesday morning. Ahead of oral arguments, a majority on that panel ruled to again put the law on hold as the legal process plays out.

FILE – Concertina wire lines the path as members of Congress tour an area near the Texas-Mexico border, Jan. 3, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. As congressional negotiators try to finalize a bipartisan deal on the border and immigration, their effort is drawing the wrath of hard-right lawmakers and former President Donald Trump. That vocal opposition threatens to unravel a delicate compromise. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The majority’s order dissolves an “administrative stay” that a separate panel imposed on March 2, meaning the injunction against SB 4 immediately goes back into effect.

“Oral argument is scheduled on March 20, 2024, to consider the Appellants’ Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal. A majority of the panel has concluded that the administrative stay entered by a motions panel on March 2, 2024, should be lifted,” according to the panel’s decision.

Circuit Judge Andrew Oldham dissented from two other judges, referencing the Supreme Court’s order from hours earlier that allowed the law to take effect.

“Earlier today, the Supreme Court of the United States restored an administrative stay so our panel could review the State’s request for emergency relief under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure,” Oldham wrote, adding, “I would leave that stay in place pending tomorrow’s oral argument on the question.”

Senate Bill 4 was signed into law in December 2023 and allows state police to arrest people on immigration charges, an authority that until now was reserved for federal law enforcement because immigration violations are dictated by federal law, not state law. It also allows local judges to order someone in custody to be deported outside the U.S.

As part of the high court’s decision, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote a concurrence that was joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, adding more context to the majority’s order. The pair of justices agreed that the 5th Circuit’s prior decision “puts this case in a very unusual procedural posture” and warned that a final determination by the appeals court should happen sooner than later.

“If a decision does not issue soon, the applicants may return to this court,” Barrett wrote.


Before 5 p.m. Eastern on Monday, SB 4 was not in effect. Justice Samuel Alito subsequently sent his order at 5:04 p.m. that extended the timeline for the court to act until Tuesday, when the court delivered a decision that allowed it to take effect.

SB 4 will remain paused as the panel prepares for Wednesday morning oral arguments at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, and likely until the panel makes its decision. It is not clear when the judges will issue a decision after oral arguments.