Oh, this is getting good. Justice Andrew Hanen, who as we’ve reported put President Obama’s executive amnesty program on hold while its legality is debating in the courts, issued a rather strong ruling yesterday ordering top DHS officials — including DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson — to appear in front of his court to explain why they didn’t stop the amnesty application process when ordered to:
Law professor Josh Blackman sums it up:
Three days before the Fifth Circuit hears arguments in Texas v. United States, things are still cooking in Brownsville. Long story short, after Judge Hanen issued his injunction, DHS granted nearly 2,000 applications.
In an order issued today, Judge Hanen expressed his frustration that the government still has not taking action to rectify the situation. As a result, he scheduled a hearing for August 19, 2015. “Each individual Defendant must attend and be prepared to show why he or she should not be held in contempt of Court.” Who are the individual defendants? Secretary of DHS Jeh Johnson, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Protection, the Deputy Chief of U.S. Border Patrol, the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Yeah, basically, the entire DHS brass.
Blackman quotes from this section of Judge Hanen’s order as well, which seems to indicate that sanctions against these top DHS officials are on the way:
This Court began its last hearing by explaining its reluctance to sanction any party or attorney. If nothing else, sanctions bog both the parties and the Court down on side issues that detract their attention from the real focus: the merits and resolution of the case. Nevertheless, no reasonable person could possibly consider a direct violation of an injunction a side issue. Furthermore, at some point, when a non-compliant party refuses to bring its conduct into compliance, one must conclude that the conduct is not accidental, but deliberate. If these violations have not been corrected by the end of this month, absent very compelling evidence, which this Court will be glad to consider, the only logical conclusion is that the Government needs a stronger motivation to comply with lawful court orders. Neither side should interpret this Court’s personal preference to not sanction lawyers or parties as an indication that it will merely acquiesce to a party’s unlawful conduct.
Boom! Or is it, boom?
There is some precedent that Johnson — and others — won’t have to testify: