At LAT, "In last big test of Obama era, Supreme Court to take up immigration policy":
The Supreme Court's last great case of the Obama era comes before the justices Monday when the administration's lawyers defend his plan to offer work permits to as many as 4 million immigrants who have been living here illegally for years.
Once again, lawyers for Republican leaders from Congress and the states will be challenging the actions of the Democratic president. And as with past battles over healthcare and same-sex marriage, Obama administration lawyers will need to win over at least one of the court's more conservative justices.
If the justices split 4 to 4 — a possibility since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — the tie vote would keep in place a Texas judge's order that has blocked President Obama's deportation relief plan from taking effect.
At issue is whether the president has the power to extend a "temporary reprieve" from the threat of deportation and a work permit to immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or lawful residents. More than one-fourth of those who stand to benefit live in California, according to immigration experts.
The two sides disagree not only on what is the right outcome, but on what the case is about. One side sees a great constitutional clash over the rule of law in a democracy, while the other sees a narrow regulatory dispute.
The Republicans, in written briefs, portray Obama's order as a profound threat to the constitutional system. If the president can defy Congress and change the law on his own, the nation has abandoned "a bedrock constitutional principle," they say.
This "would be one of the largest changes in immigration policy in the nation's history," say lawyers for Texas and 25 other Republican-led states. They note that the president's action arose after Congress refused to change the law in line with his wishes, so the order rests on "an unprecedented, sweeping assertion of executive power," they say.
The House Republicans joined the case on the side of Texas, and if anything, raised the stakes even higher. They described Obama's immigration order as "the most aggressive of executive power claims" and a threat to "the separation of powers that underpins our very constitutional structure."
Meanwhile, U.S. Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr., the administration's top lawyer, sought to play down the significance of Obama's order and defuse the constitutional clash. He said the immigrants who qualify would be offered a temporary relief from deportation that does not "confer any form of legal status." He cited instances in which Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush gave similar relief to large groups of immigrants who were fleeing wars or despotic regimes.