Immigration Ruling Stymies Obama and Those Seeking His Job

(NYT Times) For the president, it is the latest setback on an issue that has haunted him. He promised during the 2008 campaign that he would tackle an immigration overhaul in his first year in office, but it was overtaken by the fight over health care.

Good Thursday morning from Washington. The Republican field grows yet again and the candidates and hopefuls, seeking some separation, seem to be increasing their attacks on one another. But the federal appeals court ruling on Tuesday upholding a block against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration have ensured that at least one divisive issue will be around for the duration of the campaign.

When Mr. Obama announced in November that he would bypass a gridlocked Congress and enact an immigration overhaul on his own, it was a chance to make good on a promise in a way that had eluded him for years.

ObamaBut on Wednesday, the president’s lawyers acknowledged that his executive actions on behalf of undocumented immigrants could be blocked by legal fights until nearly the end of his presidency, potentially robbing him of an achievement that could be part of his legacy.

If the fight goes to the Supreme Court, as seems likely, a final ruling might not come until June 2016, just as the presidential campaign heats up.

That timing could produce terrible politics for Mr. Obama’s executive actions. No matter what the court rules, the executive actions are certain to be fiercely debated by the 2016 candidates.

Even at this early stage, they are playing a role: Hillary Rodham Clinton has said she would go even further on the issue than Mr. Obama has, while Republicans have accused him of exceeding his authority.

For the president, it is the latest setback on an issue that has haunted him. He promised during the 2008 campaign that he would tackle an immigration overhaul in his first year in office, but it was overtaken by the fight over health care.

In the following years, Mr. Obama deported hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, hoping that a tough stance would help persuade Congress to compromise on an overhaul. Instead, Republicans continued to block action and Mr. Obama’s allies in the Hispanic community became furious.

The executive actions were supposed to change all that.

Administration officials and Hispanic activists expressed confidence that the courts would eventually approve the president’s actions. But with the clock running out on Mr. Obama’s presidency, even his biggest supporters are beginning to sound worried.

— Michael D. Shear

What We’re Watching Today

George E. Pataki, the former governor of New York, will travel to Exeter, N.H., where he is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent running in the Democratic contest, will overlap in Iowa. Mr. Paul has an event in Davenport at 5:30 p.m., and Mr. Sanders will hold a town-hall-style meeting there at 7 p.m.

Republican candidates and hopefuls have had a steady presence in Michigan recently, and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida will make his second visit to the state since February. He will attend, among other events, a town-hall-style meeting in Lansing.

Among other Republicans, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida makes his first visit as a candidate to Nevada, where he will meet with Rick Harrison, star of the “Pawn Stars” show on the History channel and owner of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.And in New York, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will battle for the attention of the mega-donor Sheldon Adelson at the third annual Champion of Jewish Values International Awards Gala.

Bulletins: With Debates as the Backdrop, the Attacks Commence

As Republican hopefuls try to meet debate requirements, it will be far more common to see candidates attacking one another by name. Mr. Paul did just that on Wednesday, saying that the “hawks in our party” were responsible for the rise of Islamic State militants.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the “hawks” Mr. Paul criticized, was in Jerusalem on Wednesday, where he called Israel “our best friend.” A firm support of Israel has become something of a must for Republican candidates.

And Mr. Sanders, showing that Republicans are not the only ones going after their opponents by name, criticized Mrs. Clinton‘s position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

House Republicans Take Obama to Court, Part 2

Even as Republicans relish Tuesday’s court decision against Mr. Obama on immigration, they will challenge another of the president’s applications of executive authority in a federal courtroom on Thursday.

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the United States District Court is set to hear arguments on a motion by the administration to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the House over provisions of the health care law. The lawsuit, filed last year over the strong objections of House Democrats, contends that the White House exceeded its constitutional authority when it unilaterally suspended the employer mandate called for in the health legislation, funneling billions of dollars to insurance companies.

“Since we began taking this step, courts have continued to rule — as recently as this week — against the president’s executive overreach,” Speaker John A. Boehner said on Wednesday.

The Obama administration says the House does not have the standing to pursue the case.

Republicans must clear this preliminary hurdle before they can press the specifics of their claim. The House is represented by Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who took the case after two private attorneys bowed out under pressure from critics who said the suit was politically motivated.

– Carl Hulse

Our Other Favorites From Today’s Times

Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, entered the race for the Republican nomination on Wednesday. Here is a look at where he stands on the issues and what he would need to do to win.

Mrs. Clinton appeared at a gathering of South Carolina Democrats on Wednesday, many of whom were African-American women, saying that she would follow through on much of Mr. Obama’s agenda if she were elected to succeed him.

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

The Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal received about $10,000 a month from the Clinton Foundation while he was giving advice to Mrs. Clinton on Libya when she was secretary of state, Politico reports.

Mr. Sanders’s policy proposals, Vox argues, “are big ideas,” and are “why Sanders is worth covering” by the news media.Separately, Vox also lists “41 times” Mr. Sanders and Mr. Santorum “were on the same side.”

And Mr. Paul himself was the target of a direct political attack, as Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said that he was unsuited for the presidency.

Clinton Recalls 2 Future Presidents Who Wouldn’t Take No for an Answer

Mrs. Clinton seems to prefer making people ask for things more than once.

On Wednesday, she regaled a crowd of about 200 people in Columbia, S.C., with how Mr. Obama pursued her for the job of secretary of state.

It was November 2008, she said, and she and her husband were walking in the woods. Bill Clinton’s phone rang, with Mr. Obama on the other line.

Mr. Obama said, “Bill, I need to talk to you,” Mrs. Clinton recalled. “Bill said, ‘Well, we’re in the middle of a forest.’ ”

When they got home, Mr. Clinton returned the call, and both he and his wife spoke with Mr. Obama. The incoming president asked Mrs. Clinton to come to his Chicago office, where he stunned her by asking her to be his secretary of state.

“ ‘Mr. President-elect, I’m flattered, I’m honored,’ ” she remembered saying. “I gave him names of people I thought would make a great secretary of state.”

Mr. Obama, she recalled, told her that the economy was “worse than we were even told, and you know, we have all these problems in this world, and I need somebody that I can send out there.”

Mrs. Clinton still resisted, prompting Mr. Obama to say, “I don’t want to hear from you until you say ‘yes.’ ” Mrs. Clinton later came back with a “no,” but Mr. Obama refused to accept it.

“I said to my husband, ‘Can you believe this? I told him no twice and he said he’s not going to give up till I say yes.’ ”

“Well, as I remember, I asked you to marry me twice,” Mr. Clinton replied, adding that there was “a pattern here.”

Mrs. Clinton called Mr. Obama the next day and accepted the job.

– Maggie Haberman

Credit: Zach Gibson – The New York Times