Laxalt: This is not about immigration; it's about the president

In testimony slated to be given Wednesday before the House Judicary Committee, Attorney General Adam Laxalt plans to try to steer the discussion away from the political hot button of immigration to "the President’s attempt to change the law through unconstitutional executive action."

According to the attorney general's testimony submitted to the panel and which I have obtained and posted here, he will say: 

This suit is not about scoring political points on a policy disagreement between Democrats and Republicans," "Ultimately, this lawsuit is about stopping an unconstitutional exercise of executive power and returning this important issue to Congress, where it Constitutionally belongs.This lawsuit should transcend policy differences and partisanship. It seeks to prevent legislation from being usurped by executive fiat. Protecting such distinctions goes to the core of the separation of legislative and executive powers and to the root of our Constitutional system. Nevada joined this lawsuit because upholding our Constitutional process is more significant than any policy objective that any political party may be pushing at a particular time.

Laxalt also gives no clear reason why Nevada had to join the suit, even though he claims he was "compelled" to join, except for the general assertion that it could "impose millions of dollars in direct increased costs on the States." In his testimony, he invokes his grandfather, Paul Laxalt ("the son of an immigrant sheepherder"), then pivots:

However, it has never been true that in order to sympathize with the plight of immigrants, or to believe in the American dream, one must reject our constitutional system. To borrow a phrase our President is fond of using: that is a false choice. In significant part, it is our commitment to the rule of law and to our Constitution that has drawn people to our shores across the generations.

Laxalt then compares what the president did to what Harry Truman did in seizing the steel mills, and invokes the administrative procedures act and due process:

On Constitutional grounds, on statutory grounds, and on due process grounds this executive action contradicts our laws. 

Laxalt also cites differing explanations by the president for taking the action:

First, the President said that he lacked the authority to unilaterally change the immigration laws. Then the President said, “I just took an action to change the law.” The federal government’s lawyers now say that this isn’t really a change to the law, it is just “policy guidance.” Obviously, all three of these positions cannot all be true. The States would submit that the President was correct the first time. Neither he nor his Secretary of Homeland Security has the power to unilaterally change the law. 

And why did he join the suit?

First, by joining this suit and stopping the Administration from taking illegal unilateral action this important issue will return to where it belongs – this Congress. Joining this lawsuit rightly acknowledges that sweeping immigration policy must be decided by the legislative branch and not by executive fiat. It must be done in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution, which means through legislation enacted by Congress.

Second, like the other attorneys general who had already joined the suit, and like all members of Congress, I swore an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. In other words, this suit is not about politics. As the federal judge noted in his decision last week, it is not even about the “wisdom, or lack thereof, underlying the [President’s] decision.” (Op. at 4). Rather, it is about defending the separation of powers and the rule of law.

As Nevada’s chief law enforcement officer, Nevada law requires that I initiate or join litigation whenever necessary “to protect and secure the interest of the State.” In addition to the important constitutional interests just mentioned, the States have demonstrated, and Judge Hanen agreed in his opinion, that the President’s unilateral action will impose millions of dollars in direct increased costs on the States. 

My duties as a constitutional officer of the State of Nevada and my duties to protect the interests of Nevada compelled me to join the States’ lawsuit.