Our Articles on Recent United States Supreme Court Decisions

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Introduction: New Supreme Court Cases Relating to Immigration

The Supreme Court issued numerous high profile decisions in the final days of its October term 2015 (ending on June 27, 2016). Several of the Supreme Court's decisions are either about immigration law or may have a tangential effect on aspects of immigration law. We have written five articles about the actions of the Supreme Court in the final weeks of October term 2015 and how they relate to immigration law and policy. In this post, I will list the decisions that we have articles about on this website along with brief summaries and links to the full articles.

1. United States v. Texas [see full article]

Case Name: United States v. Texas, 579 U.S. ___ (2016) [PDF version]

Summary: This case concerned the ability of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement the Deferred Action for Parents and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) Program and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. The Government petitioned the Supreme Court, asking it to vacate a District Court's preliminary injunction against the implementation of DAPA and the DACA expansion that had been upheld by the Fifth Circuit.

Decision: An equally divided Supreme Court (4-4) affirmed the judgment of the Fifth Circuit, thereby leaving the preliminary injunction against the implementation of DAPA and the DACA expansion in place.

Article: Our article on United States v. Texas provides a summary of the litigation and what we can expect as the case returns to the District Court for further litigation. The article contains links to previous posts that I have written about the litigation in the case.

Blog: I also wrote a blog post about the possible impcat of the November elections on the future of DAPA and the DACA expansion [see blog].

2. Mathis v. United States [see full article]

Case Name: Mathis v. United States, 579 U.S. ___ (2016) [PDF version]

Summary: The case concerned whether five separate convictions for violating an Iowa state statute for burglary were predicate offenses for purpose of enhanced sentencing under the Armed Career Criminals Act (ACCA). At issue in the case was whether courts may look at the underlying factual record of crime if the conviction was for violation of a statute that contains a single element, but provides different means for fulfilling that element, and where at least one of the means would fall under the definition of generic burglary (which would be an ACCA predicate offense) while at least one of the means would fall outside of the definition of generic burglary.

Decision: By a 5-3 margin, the Supreme Court held that sentencing courts may not explore the record of the underlying facts of an offense when there are different means for satisfying a single element required for conviction, but where at least one of the means would fall under the definition of the generic offense while at least one of the means would not. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that the petitioner's burglary convictions were not predicate offenses for enhanced sentencing under the ACCA.

Article: Our article discusses the potential applications of the Mathis precedent in the immigration context. Specifically, we explain how Mathis may be beneficial to nonimmigrants who are charged with immigration aggravated felonies in certain cases. Furthermore, given the close nature of the decision, we also review the dissenting opinions in Mathis.

3. Voisine v. United States [see full article]

Case Name: Voisine v. United States, 579 U.S. __ (2016) [PDF version]

Summary: The case concerned a statute that prohibits a person who has been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” from possessing a firearm. We focus on the part of the decision that discusses whether the statutory definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” encompasses a conviction for “reckless assault.”

Decision: By a 6-2 margin, the Supreme Court held that “reckless assault” is included in the statutory definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”

Article: In our article, we examine the possibility that the decision in Voisine will impact how immigration adjudicators and federal courts interpret the statutory definition of a “crime of violence” found in 18 U.S.C. 16. We pay particular attention to the decision's discussion of Leocal v. Aschroft, 543 U.S. 1 (2004), which we have written about in detail on this site [see article].

4. Supreme Court Grants Cert in Lynch v. Morales-Santana [see full article]

Case Name: Lynch v. Morales-Santana, Docket No. 15-1191 [PDF version of questions presented]

Summary: The Supreme Court granted the Government's petition to review the Second Circuit decision in Morales-Santana v. Lynch, 804 F.3d 520 (Jul. 8, 2015). In Morales-Santana v. Lynch, the Second Circuit held that gender-based distinctions for the derivation of citizenship for a child born overseas to two unmarried parents (where one parent is a U.S. citizen) violates the guarantee of equal protection under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Second Circuit also held that the petitioner in the case was a U.S. Citizen.

Questions Presented: The Supreme Court will review whether the gender-based distinctions in the derivation of citizenship laws violate equal protection. Furthermore, the Supreme Court will review whether the Second Circuit was correct in determining that the petitioner was a U.S. citizen.

Article: In our article, we discuss the reasoning behind the Second Circuit decision in great detail. After examining the questions that the Supreme Court will review, we look briefly at previous Supreme Court decisions dealing with equal protection challenges to other provisions of the same statute for derivation of citizenship. Finally, we explain what the effects would likely be if the Supreme Court affirms the Second Circuit's decision.

Conclusion

Supreme Court decisions are not only binding on all lower federal courts but also on immigration adjudicators. Accordingly, when a Supreme Court decision either directly or indirectly addresses an aspect of immigration law, it is important to understand the precedential impact of that decision. At myattorneyusa.com, we will stay on top of the continuing litigation regarding DAPA and the DACA expansion and Morales-Santana, and we will look to update the site with information when immigration adjudicators or federal courts issue precedent decisions relating to immigration law that cite to Mathis or Voisine.