Neal Katyal insists you have to work really hard to lose a case when you're defending presidential action in front of the Supreme Court. "Any competent administration could have actually ended DACA if they'd wanted to."
June 18, 2020

MSNBC legal analyst Neal Katyal had himself a good ole time dunking on the astonishing ineptitude of the Trump administration's DACA loss at the Supreme Court. Katyal knows of which he speaks, being a member of the Supreme Court bar and having argued more cases there than any other minority in history. Basically, he said it's extremely hard to lose a case if you're arguing in favor of the executive branch, because the Supreme Court by default starts with a position of deference and respect. Not here, though, and not today.

NEAL KATYAL: This decision is a blowout in the water for the Trump administration, and if you have, like me, defended the, had the privilege of defending the government before our nation's highest court, you know, look, if you're defending presidential action, it's really hard to lose at the Supreme Court. There's so much deference. You really got to try. It's kinda like failing a class at Yale. You got to work at it. And here they managed to do it not just this time with DACA, but last year with the census, and so what this is, is an incompetent administration. Any competent administration could have actually ended DACA if they'd wanted to. Any competent administration probably could have added the citizenship question to the census, given the deference that the Supreme Court gives. And so, to run on this in the campaign, on this idea that, oh, the Trump administration is going to be tough on immigration, only in a kind of botched way, and that's what the decision today is about. It's like, you couldn't even do it, and you did it illegally, and therefore we're striking it down and I don't think that gives anyone including the hardliners in this country on immigration, any sort of comfort about this administration. Incompetent through and through.

AYMAN MOHYELDIN (ANCHOR): I want to pick up on that point for a moment. Does this case in itself, Neal, aside from this specific issue of DACA, does it address any issue about presidential overreach? That was at the core I understand from the attorneys generals who brought this forward -- they were arguing that this represented a bit of a presidential overreach.

KATYAL: Exactly. The Trump administration oddly came in and said this is a violation of executive power, what President Obama did, which is the first time the Trump administration has ever thought anything was a violation of executive power. Normally they go into court and say the president can do anything he wants.


KATYAL: So it's always been a bit bogus, and what the Supreme Court today said was no, you didn't even explain how this is an abuse of presidential power. All this is is deferring enforcement, which is a quintessential thing presidents can do. Now look, they said maybe you can do this, but you have to have a good reason and actually explain yourself, and Trump administration, you didn't even bother to do that. Incompetent.

I'm not sure what Yale did to warrant that shade from Katyal, but that's a topic on which he also knows his stuff, having attended law school there, so I'm just gonna take his word and laugh. But as far as the outright incompetence, we can be grateful for small things. I'd hate to think what a competent administration with Trump's goals could accomplish if it were in power.

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