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Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton can’t ignore the SCOTUS decision about razor wire in Eagle Pass

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Talk of an impending “civil war” is reckless and incendiary.

A growing chorus of voices on the far right, stoked by the performative defiance of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Kex Paxton, have made the Rio Grande the latest clash between states’ rights and federal authority.

Now part of this showdown is whether a ruling this week by the U.S. Supreme Court can be ignored.

Responding to an emergency request filed by the Biden administration, the court, in a 5-4 decision Monday, agreed that the administration had the right to cut down razor wire the state strung along the border, part of Abbott’s Operation Lone Star to keep migrants from entering the United States. The three liberal members of the court were joined in the majority by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Last October, Paxton sued to prevent the Border Patrol from removing the wire. A federal judge ruled in favor of the Biden administration, but last month, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, saying the federal government couldn’t remove the wire unless there was a medical emergency.

On Jan. 2, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene because federal agents were being barred from doing their jobs. Eight days later, Abbott ordered the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety troopers to take control of Shelby Park in Eagle Park and block Border Patrol agents from entering.

Two days after that, three migrants, a woman and two children, drowned in the area. While the drownings had occurred by the time the Border Patrol was notified, their officers were prevented by the Texas National Guard from trying to rescue two other migrants struggling in the water. These two eventually were picked up by a Mexican airboat.

Texas argued there was no need for the Supreme Court to intervene since the case is fast-tracked for oral arguments on Feb. 7.

The response from Texas Republicans and their allies has been defiant and provocative.

“Texas will not back down from our efforts to secure the border in Biden’s absence,” Abbott posted on X, formerly Twitter, from India.

Paxton posted that the court’s decision “allows Biden to continue his illegal effort to aid the foreign invasion of America.”

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, was among the lawmakers encouraging the state to ignore the law. Roy told Fox News Digital: “They have a duty under the Constitution … and every other norm of leadership of any sovereign state, to protect your citizens, period, full stop. There is no exception to that, and if the Supreme Court wants to ignore that truth, which a slim majority did, Texas still had the duty, Texas leaders still have the duty, to defend their people.”

Wrong. The Constitution Roy cites invests the Supreme Court with final authority; it doesn’t give states the power to nullify federal laws.

This is about more than the Biden administration’s record on immigration, which is consistent with that of his predecessors in being ineffective, if not abysmal.

Roy’s cavalier disregard for a Supreme Court decision he doesn’t like illustrates the larger stakes. Our constitutional democracy is threatened if governors and members of Congress believe the law only applies to their interests; that they have the option to choose which Supreme Court decisions they will comply with or ignore; and that the federal government is something to be demonized as an accomplice in the “foreign invasion of America.”

After the Supreme Court’s decision Monday, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said, “My thoughts are that the feds are staging a civil war, and Texas should stand their ground.”

Talk of an impending “civil war” is reckless and incendiary.

It’s as if those talking this way don’t realize the possible consequences of their rhetoric. Or they do, and they are trying to speak it into being.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666