Supreme Court smackdown: Won’t hear Trump appeal of DACA ruling!
U.S. Supreme Court building | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court refused today to entertain Donald Trump’s appeal of a federal judge’s decision to require continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Under a lower court order that now remains the law, the Department of Homeland Security must continue to accept renewal applications from the roughly 700,000 young people now enrolled in the DACA program. Trump lit a firestorm when he announced last year that he would shut the program down by March 5. The immediate effect of the ruling is to halt what many had feared would be thousands of deportations of DACA recipients on a daily basis. The Supreme Court slapdown of Trump occurs only two days after, speaking at the CPAC convention, Trump compared the nation’s immigrants to snakes.

The defeat to Trump came in a short court order that read, simply, “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.”

The ruling by the Court gives people in Congress trying to work out a deal more time to do so. Thus far whenever bi-partisan attempts at a deal have been put forward they have been sabotaged by Trump.

The DACA program, begun under President Obama, allows children of undocumented immigrants, “Dreamers,” to stay in the U.S. if they were under 16 when their parents brought them to this country and if they arrived by 2007. Those receiving DACA status must renew it every two years and the Court ruling today allows those renewals to continue.

A federal judge in San Francisco, William Alsup, ruled Jan. 9 in favor of the University of California and its president, former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. They had sued to keep DACA in place after the Trump administration said in September that it would end it within six months. The judge ruled at the time that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had wrongly concluded that DACA was put in place without proper legal authority. President Obama had acted in accordance with his legal authority, according to the federal court.

The Justice Department immediately said it would contest that ruling before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. But government lawyers also asked the Supreme Court to take the highly unusual step of agreeing to hear the case, bypassing the appeals court.

“The district court has entered an unprecedented nationwide injunction requiring the government not simply to tolerate, but to affirmatively sanction, a continuing violation of federal law by nearly 700,000 aliens,” said Solicitor General Noel Francisco in asking the justices to take the case.

The Supreme Court has agreed only about a dozen times in the past century to immediately take a case and bypass the federal appeals courts, and those cases usually involve a national emergency, such as nationwide strikes in the steel and coal industries.

In asking the court to take the case, the Justice Department took another unusual step in declining to ask the justices to block the lower court order in the meantime, which would have allowed the government to shut DACA down as planned. Such a start-and-stop approach, the government said, would frustrate the goal of winding the program down in an orderly way.

Monday’s action by the Supreme Court leaves the DACA challenge pending before the California appeals court, where it is in the early stages. The Justice Department has said it will take at least another year to get back to the Supreme Court for a decision on DACA’s future.

If Congress acts in the meantime to extend the program or provide an alternative path to citizenship for its recipients, the legal case would probably be dismissed.

John Wojcik contributed to this article.