The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will rule on the constitutionality of President Obama's plan to shield over 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation. Obama announced in 2014 that he intended to use executive action to provide amnesty to millions of immigrants in the country illegally, but 26 states, mainly led by Republicans, quickly challenged the legality of the plan.
A federal judge temporarily blocked the initiative in February 2015, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction in November, saying the administration's failure to first seek public comment was a breach of proper procedures, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The administration then filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, asking it to immediately review the case, and the court said Tuesday that it will hear arguments on the issue in April and likely decide by the end of June.
The court's decision to examine the case was heralded by Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who praised the court for taking on the issue, according to FOX News.
The administration will argue three main points: the states don't have the legal standing to challenge the policy in federal court, the government followed appropriate procedure in implementing the executive actions and federal law grants the administration broad discretion on how to enforce immigration laws, according to CBS News.
The justices said in their order Tuesday that they will also decide whether Obama's actions violated the constitutional provision requiring the president to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed," essentially meaning that they will determine whether current law prohibits Obama from using executive action to enforce broad immigration laws, according to Politico.
If the court rules in favor of the Obama administration, the president could start granting amnesty during his final months in office, a move that would surely escalate debate in a presidential contest already heavily focused on immigration. Under the executive actions, immigrant adults in the country illegally would be allowed to stay if they have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, according to NBC News. Upon passing a background check, registering with the government and submitting biometric data, they would be allowed to apply for a three-year work permit. If the Supreme Court rules against the White House, court battles will likely stall the programs implementation for the foreseeable future.