In the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked the Supreme Court nominee about a nationwide injunction she issued that blocked the Department of Homeland Security from deporting undocumented immigrants who had been in the country for less than two years. He said that the department itself — not the courts — is lawfully responsible for making such decisions, and asked why she believed a federal court had the right to review them.
Jackson laid out the details of the case, which centered around a challenge to the procedures used by the agency to make a decision about how to deport non-citizens. Prior to that challenge, the department decided that people who had been in the country for up to 14 days and found within 100 miles of the border were therefore subject to expedited removal.
“The challenge that I heard involved the department’s sudden shift to a determination that expedited removal would be applied to anyone who was found anywhere in the country and who had been here up to two years,” Jackson said.
She said that while DHS had the sole responsibility to decide whether to deport a person (and once they decided, that decision was final), the discretion given to the agency did not mean that it could make arbitrary decisions. “Procedural requirements may still apply,” Jackson said.
Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden in February to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman on the high court. After opening statements from Jackson, her colleagues and the senators March 21, senators will spend two days questioning Jackson at length about her rulings and judicial philosophy. On the final day of the hearings March 24, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from friends and colleagues of Jackson about her temperament and approach to the law.
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