There will be cries of triumph in the conservative chattering classes today, but probably not for long, since Texas federal judge Andrew Hanen’s order halting implementation of the president’s executive actions on immigration will likely be put aside by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The judge will still get to hear the case, and since he’s big on telegraphing his anti-Obama views, will almost certainly declare the president’s actions unconstitutional. But this is just one, and not necessarily the most important, skirmish in the battle over immigration policy, and the odds are still very high that Obama’s policies will survive both legislative and judicial challenges.
What Judge Hanen’s action shows is that in this vast land an industrious venue-shopping lawyer can find at least one federal judge willing to do just about anything. As the New York Times‘ Julia Preston notes, Hanen was a natural for this case:
Judge Hanen, who was appointed in 2002 by President George W. Bush, has excoriated the Obama administration’s immigration policies in several unusually outspoken rulings. The president’s supporters have said that Texas officials, who are leading the states’ lawsuit, were venue shopping when they chose to file in Brownsville.
To quote the Sleepy John Estes song made famous by Ry Cooder, Republicans took “that right hand road” and went down to Brownsville. It will be a good test of conservative honesty during the next few days to see who does and doesn’t admit this development is likely to wind up as a footnote in the history books.