The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said Tuesday it will hold a two-hour oral argument session in New Orleans next month to determine if it should place a stay on U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction against President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Hanen approved the injunction request last month by the 26 states that allege Obama’s actions were unconstitutional.
The oral arguments, which will take place in New Orleans on April 17, will determine if the injunction will be temporarily blocked while the federal government appeals Hanen’s decision, according to Politico. In addition, the Court of Appeals approved the federal government’s request to expedite a merits appeal process related to the states’ lawsuit against the Obama administration and set a schedule through May.
“The rule of law is at the very heart of our case against President Obama’s lawless immigration action," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement. "We are a nation of laws, and we are proud to lead a bipartisan coalition of 26 states fighting this administration’s unilateral and unconstitutional use of executive power. We will vigorously oppose the president’s illegal amnesty plan in court.”
The 5th Circuit stressed its order was not an attempt to weigh in on Hanen’s current dispute with Justice Department attorneys who may have misled him on when the federal government would enact certain aspects of Obama’s plan to shield some 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. “Nothing in this order is intended to affect or constitute a comment on any ongoing proceedings in the district court,” the order said.
Hanen presided over a federal hearing last week in Brownsville, Texas, during which he said he would consider sanctions against the Justice Department if he finds sufficient evidence that officials lied to him about Obama’s program. Justice Department attorney Kathleen Hartnett allegedly told Hanen that the expansion of a program to provide more than 100,000 illegal immigrants with protection from deportation and a three-year window of deferred action would not be implemented before the injunction took effect. But when Hanen issued the injunction on Feb. 16, the immigrants had already received the protection.
Hartnett apologized to Hanen during a contentious hearing last Thursday, but disputed the notion the Justice Department should be sanctioned. “We strive to be as candid as possible. It truly became clear to us there was confusion on this point,” Hartnett said.