MAY 23, 2016
It’s been repeatedly proven that government officials lie regularly to cover up wrongdoing and now a scathing federal court order blasting the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its army of lawyers offers details seldom seen by the public. In fact, the judge in this case appears to go out of his way to write something for the masses, not just the parties involved in the litigation.
The case involves a lawsuit filed by 26 states against the federal government challenging President Obama’s immigration amnesty measures. It was originally filed in the Southern District of Texas and the judge hearing the case, Andrew S. Hanen, issued a 28-page order last week slamming DOJ attorneys representing the administration for intentionally lying to the court, thus violating a multitude of ethics and court rules. Among other things Hanen admonishes DOJ lawyers for lying by claiming in court that the president’s amnesty plan featuring three-year deferrals wasn’t being implemented when in fact it was for more than 100,000 illegal aliens. The measure is officially known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the agency charged with implementing it.
In the order Hanen writes: “The Government admits that the lawyer making these statements knew at the time of this hearing that the DHS was already granting these three year extensions (which it also admits are only authorized by the 2014 DHS Directive) instead of the two-year renewals authorized in 2012. Not only did counsel fail to tell the Court that the DHS was already granting relief using the 2014 DHS Directive, she told the Court that nothing would happen with regard to revised DACA until mid-February of 2015.” The lashing continues. “Apparently, lawyers, somewhere in the halls of the Justice Department whose identities are unknown to this Court, decided unilaterally that the conduct of the DHS in granting three-year DACA renewals . . . was immaterial and irrelevant to this lawsuit and that the DOJ could therefore just ignore it. Then, for whatever reason, the Justice Department trial lawyers appearing in this Court chose not to tell the truth about this DHS activity. The first decision was certainly unsupportable, but the subsequent decision to hide it from the Court was unethical.”
Texas initiated the lawsuit in December 2014 challenging the president’s amnesty order and the other states eventually joined in. Judge Hanen ruled in favor of the states, essentially blocking the amnesty, and later discovered that the administration disregarded the order and government attorneys repeatedly lied about it in court. After Hanen’s reprimand became public, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said this: “Throughout this case, the administration has struggled to provide accurate, reliable information regarding the scope of the President’s plan or even when it would be implemented. From the start, our lawsuit has been about asserting that one person cannot unilaterally change the law, and part of that is ensuring everyone abides by the rule of law.
This kind of pubic scolding, especially from a federal court, is seldom seen while a president is still in office. The DOJ is supposed to defend the public’s best interest, not lie to cover up the president’s wrongdoing. An editorial in a mainstream newspaper points out that the misconduct unmasked by Judge Hanen should trouble Americans of all political persuasions. “Prosecutors often abuse their powers in run-of-the-mill cases,” the editorial states. “But this is a constitutional challenge with major consequences for the separation of powers, and the deceit must have required the participation and coordination of dozens of political appointees and career lawyers. That suggests a serious institutional failure, not mere rogue actors.” The piece refers to the DOJ’s systematic deception in court about the administration’s conduct an “ethics rot.”