SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an amicus brief, which was led by the State of Kansas, in United States v. Abbott. The case concerns a challenge to Texas’s efforts to defend its southern border with Mexico by installing water buoys in the Rio Grande.
Earlier this summer, Texas Governor Greg Abbott made the decision to construct a wall of water buoys in the Rio Grande to help stem the flow of migrants crossing into Texas from Mexico. After the Biden administration filed a lawsuit challenging the State’s action, a district judge ordered Abbott to remove the buoys. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit delayed the lower court’s temporary injunction and will be hearing arguments in the case.
The coalition of attorneys general argue that “the States have a constitutional right to defend themselves that federal law cannot override absent, at a minimum, a clear statement” and that federal law “does not limit Texas’s ability to defend itself from the illegal migrant invasion on the southern border.”
In their brief, the States explain the legal interests for their involvement in this case, writing, “The Constitution guarantees the States’ right to self-defense expressly and as a natural incident of the States’ status as sovereign entities. Here, however, the federal government has sought to disable Texas’s exercise of that right by claiming that it violates a federal law focused on the navigability of the nation’s waterways, a law that does not expressly limit the States’ ability to engage in self-defense. That is inconsistent with the status of the right of self-defense as a core component of the States’ sovereign status – a status that is integral to federalism – and is expressly guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Joining Utah and Kansas on this brief were the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Virginia.