Credit must be given to the Biden administration for its consistent ability to identify and occupy the strategic low ground in political confrontations. The recent clash with Texas over the ongoing border situation is another example of this skill.
Democrats and their media allies argue that the administration has the law and Constitution on its side, citing a narrow 5-4 Supreme Court decision allowing the federal government to remove Texas’s border barriers. While technically true, the political value of the Court’s ruling is questionable.
Despite aiming for a moral and political standing akin to Abraham Lincoln or Andrew Jackson in a sectional crisis, Biden finds himself in a weaker position due to his own actions. Democrats have long criticized the Supreme Court, questioning its authority on constitutional matters and labeling its decisions as purely political.
It becomes challenging for Democrats to champion the Court’s defense when they have disparaged it as an institution. The deciding vote in favor of the Biden administration came from Amy Comey Barrett, whom Democrats argue was illegitimately appointed. Excluding her, the balance is 4-4, supporting Texas’s position.
The administration’s attempt to justify itself based on defending the Supreme Court’s rights contradicts its previous messaging, a contradiction likely to resurface if the Court makes rulings that liberals find objectionable later on.
Additionally, it is unclear if Democrats truly want to engage in a figurative war over the principle of federal supremacy and power. Prior to 2016, many Democrats believed they would always control federal power, and recent years have seen blue states defying Washington on various issues.
Some Democrats are aware of the potential pitfalls of confronting states over federal power, realizing that the principle at stake may not align with their cause. Biden is pushing a confrontation with Texas and other state governors over border barriers at a time when a majority of Americans, including Democrats, desire a secure border.
However, the lack of a clear objective in the border policy complicates matters for Biden and his party. The Democrats have conflicting views on the issue, ranging from seeing no problem at all to wanting to regulate arrivals rather than stop them. The administration’s attempt to reconcile these differing visions has resulted in an ambiguous stance on border patrol access to certain areas.
As a result, Biden finds himself in a challenging position – defending the power of a Supreme Court majority, including a justice deemed illegitimate by the left, to enforce an unpopular policy that may worsen the situation.
The administration’s lack of a backup plan leaves Biden pursuing a policy he knows will fail, at great cost to the causes and principles he claims to uphold. In the end, regardless of the outcome, Biden is set to lose – a recurring theme in his presidency.