By Jake Kaplan

Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:

The Biden administration continues to reverse Trump-era immigration policies. 

  • On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memorandum directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to end worksite raids—a process the Trump administration used to arrest and deport large groups of undocumented workers. Mayorkas said DHS will instead protect workers from “unscrupulous employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities, or impose unsafe working conditions.”
  • Mayorkas’s memo follows recent DHS guidance that said that a person’s undocumented status “should not alone be the basis” for arrest or deportation.
  • The Biden administration is also taking steps to reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—the program that shields from deportation undocumented people who came to the United States as children. In July, a federal judge barred DHS from accepting new DACA applications because, in the judge’s view, DACA is an “illegally implemented program.” Last month, in an attempt to remedy the judge’s concerns and revive the program, DHS proposed a new DACA rule. The rule is currently in a 60-day period that allows the public to submit comments on the rule before DHS takes further action. 

The Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case regarding a Kentucky abortion law.

  • The law at issue is Kentucky’s H.B. 454, which makes it a crime for abortion providers to use the dilation and evacuation method that is commonly used for abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, challenged the constitutionality of the law. Both the district court and a panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found the law unconstitutional. 
  • The issue before the Supreme Court right now, however, is not the constitutionality of the law. It is instead whether Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, can intervene in the case to defend the law and appeal the 6th Circuit ruling despite the Democratic governor’s refusal to do so.
  • Based on the justices’ statements during oral argument, the Court appears likely to permit Cameron to appeal the ruling. Justice Stephen Breyer said, “If Kentucky law allows Cameron to defend the law, and there’s no harm to anyone else, and I can’t see where there is, why can’t he just come in and defend the law?” 
  • A decision in the case is expected in 2022. If the Court rules in favor of Attorney General Cameron, the case could eventually come back to the Supreme Court, and then the justices would likely get an opportunity to weigh in on the constitutionality of the law.