Robert J. Delahunty & John C. Yoo
91 Texas L. Rev. 781
In this piece, Professors Delahunty and Yoo argue that the Obama Administration’s preferred tool for domestic policy is “prosecutorial discretion” not to enforce statutes with which the President disagrees. The Obama Administration has claimed “prosecutorial discretion” most aggressively in the area of immigration. The most notable example of this trend was its June 15, 2012 decision not to enforce the removal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) against an estimated population of 800,000 to 1.76 million individuals illegally present in the United States. By taking this step, the Obama Administration effectively wrote into law “the DREAM Act,” whose passage had failed to that point.
In Part I, Professors Delahunty and Yoo describe the circumstances of the Administration’s June 15 nonenforcement decision and identify the central legal issues. In Part II, they examine the meaning and scope of the President’s duty to “take care” that the laws be faithfully executed. In Part III, they catalogue and review the most commonly offered and generally accepted excuses or justifications for the breach of the duty to execute the laws, such as unconstitutionality of the law, equity in individual cases, and resource limitations. The authors conclude that the June 15 decision does not fall within any of them.