Battle of the Ilyas, Round III: The Immigrants Debate Immigration

April 6th, 2016

Ilya Shapiro and Ilya Somin, two of my closest friends and colleagues, are often confused for one another. Other academics, think tankers, and even federal judges get the duo mixed up. To help resolve this dispute, in 2009 and 2010, I hosted the first two rounds of what I dubbed The Battle of the Ilyas. I gave each of them Judge Boggs’s general-knowledge quiz, and scored them. Shapiro was the victor in both Round 1 and Round 2. Alas, the parties could not agree on a rematch in 2011 and 2012, and I think I gave up after that. But now, in 2016, there is finally a third bout between the two libertarian heavyweights.

On April 21, the Reason Foundation is hosting a debate between Somin and Shapiro on the constitutionality of DAPA, moderated Shikha Dalmia.  This is a rare issue where Somin disagrees with Shapiro (and me)–proof that libertarians sometimes view constitutional issues very differently.

Here is the description of the event:

On April 18, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of DAPA (Deferred Actions for Parents of Americans), President Obama’s executive order that offers temporary legal status to undocumented parents of American children. The order will defer deportation proceedings against four to five million undocumented aliens and hand them temporary work permits. A ruling is expected in June.

Like much of the country, libertarians have been deeply divided over whether the president has the power to issue such an order. Those who defend him argue that he has broad prosecutorial authority to set enforcement priorities on immigration law just as he does on criminal law, especially since the violations far overwhelm the resources available to prosecute them. Those who say he doesn’t argue that such systematic en masse relief without Congressional authorization is tantamount to writing laws by executive fiat.

Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia will moderate two pre-eminent libertarian constitutional scholars Ilya Shapiro and Ilya Somin as they go toe-to-toe in a live debate on this controversial issue that promises to have major repercussions for the presidential election this year. Shapiro of the Cato Institute will argue that the order goes beyond the president’s lawful powers and Somin of George Mason University and Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy will argue that it fits within the relevant legal and constitutional provisions – and is the right thing to do.

Please join us on April 21st at the Reason DC office, 1747 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009 for this battle of the Ilyas. Doors will open at 5.30 pm for the 6 pm debate. Reception to follow.

Alas, I will not be able to attend the debate, but I will report on the victor when it is announced.

And for a throwback, here is the poster I created from their bout in 2010. (For you eagle-eyed readers, this picture was taken outside the ballroom at the Omni Shoreham during the 2010 Federalist Society Lawyer’s Convention).