United States Supreme Court Permits Federal Officials to Cut Wire Barriers
FAIR Take | January 2024
Last week, an order by the United States Supreme Court temporarily allowed federal officials to cut the state of Texas’s razor wire barriers the Texas National Guard had installed to help impede the influx of illegal aliens surging into the state. The case is now back in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear arguments on the merits on February 7.
The Supreme Court’s one paragraph ruling simply stated that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ injunction issued on December 19, which barred border agents from cutting the wire, was set aside while the case moved forward. The justices’ 5-4 decision provided no rationale for its determination.
Regardless of the setback, both Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have vowed to continue to fight. On Twitter (now X), Attorney General Paxton wrote, “the Supreme Court’s temporary order allows Biden to continue his illegal effort to aid the foreign invasion of America. The destruction of Texas’s border barriers will not help enforce the law or keep American citizens safe. This fight is not over, and I look forward to defending our state’s sovereignty.
Governor Abbott’s reaction was similar to Paxton’s, adding, “This is not over. Texas’ razor wire is an effective deterrent to the illegal crossings Biden encourages. I will continue to secure the border and prevent the Biden administration from destroying our property.”
Twenty-five Republican governors released a joint statement on January 25 supporting Texas’s efforts to secure the border with Mexico, stating, “We stand in solidarity with our fellow Governor, Greg Abbott, and the State of Texas in utilizing every tool and strategy, including razor wire fences, to secure the border.” The governors’ statement continued, “President Biden and his administration have left Americans and our country completely vulnerable to unprecedented illegal immigration pouring across the Southern border. Instead of upholding the rule of law and securing the border, the Biden administration has attacked and sued Texas for stepping up to protect American citizens from historic levels of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and terrorists entering our country.”
This case originated when Texas filed a suit in District Court on October 24 to prevent federal officials from cutting the wire. The initial lawsuit claimed that the federal government was illegally destroying property owned by Texas and undermined its efforts to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the state. Judge Alia Moses ruled against Texas on November 29, reasoning, “the law may be on the side of the [Biden administration] and compel a resolution in their favor today, but it does not excuse their culpable and duplicitous conduct.”
Immediately after Judge Moses’s ruling, Lone Star State Attorney General Paxton filed an appeal in addition to a request for an injunction to prevent federal officials from cutting the wire barriers while the case was under consideration. “I am disappointed that the federal government’s blatant and disturbing efforts to subvert law and order at our State’s border with Mexico will be allowed to continue,” remarked Paxton. “Biden’s doctrine of open borders at any cost threatens the safety of our citizens, and we will continue to fight it every step of the way.”
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued the injunction back on December 19, which temporarily barred Border Patrol agents from cutting or moving the wire, except in cases of medical emergencies. This order prompted the Biden administration to file an emergency request with the Supreme Court on January 2 to consider the dispute.
Ironically, Biden’s emergency request to the Supreme Court was made even though the case had already been expedited in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas filed its brief with the 5th Circuit on January 16, and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed an amicus brief on January 23. The federal government’s brief was submitted on January 26. The 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments from both sides on February 7 and a ruling is expected shortly thereafter.
It is likely that the Supreme Court will again have this case before them because any decision by the 5th Circuit will most assuredly be appealed.