Supreme Court rules to keep pandemic-era Title 42 border policy in place.

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By a 5-4 vote, the court acted in the wake of a temporary stay that Chief Justice John Roberts imposed on Dec. 19, two days before Title 42 regulations were to end.

Border officials had started observing an increase in land crossings in the days ahead of the policy’s expected end on Dec. 21, with at least 10,000 additional migrants waiting in Mexican border cities with the expectation that the measure would soon be lifted.

The Biden administration had sought to end the policy, while the Republican states wanted it to remain in place. As is typical, the Supreme Court’s majority didn’t lay out its reasoning for the order. The court ordered an expedited hearing, setting arguments in the case for February or early March.

In dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, said the court shouldn’t be party to a political dispute about immigration policy that no longer relates to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The current border crisis is not a COVID crisis. And courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency,” Justice Gorsuch wrote.

In a written statement, the White House said while the administration readies its legal arguments, “we are advancing our preparations to manage the border in a secure, orderly, and humane way.”

The White House said as a public-health measure, Title 42 couldn’t be extended indefinitely. “To truly fix our broken immigration system, we need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform measures,” the statement said.

“It’s disappointing the Biden administration is willing to sacrifice the safety of American families for political purposes,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican who helped lead the states’ drive to extend Title 42 rules after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they no longer were needed for public-health purposes.

The Supreme Court order doesn’t involve Title 42’s legality at this stage. Instead, it concerns only a procedural issue: whether the states may intervene in longstanding litigation before federal courts in Washington, D.C., over the legality of the pandemic-era border controls.

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