In a win for immigration advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued another major ruling — but this one comes with a twist.
The nation’s highest court issued a 7-2 decision this week that gives federal appeals courts greater authority to review rulings by immigration courts and a Justice Department appeals panel that oversees those courts.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch joined all of their Democratic-appointed colleagues in the decision favoring more oversight of executive branch actions in immigration cases.
Only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
The Supreme Court ruling means immigrants who are given removal orders requiring them to leave the country have the right to appeal those orders in the federal courts.
ScotusBlog analyzes and explains the ruling:
The Supreme Court issued its decision in the consolidated cases of Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr and Ovalles v. Barr. The court ruled in favor of the noncitizens who were challenging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit’s denial of their motions to reopen their removal cases. The 5th Circuit had said it lacked the ability to review their cases. With the court’s decision, Pedro Pablo Guerrero-Lasprilla and Ruben Ovalles will now be able to continue their legal efforts to come back into the United States.
8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(C) bars federal courts from considering appeals from decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals by noncitizens convicted of certain crimes who challenge their removal orders. These cases center on Section 1252(a)(2)(D), which the court dubs the “Limited Review Provision.” This provision allows circuit courts to consider “questions of law” raised in appeals from the BIA from the removal orders covered by Section 1252(a)(2)(C) when the review would otherwise be precluded by that provision.
At the 5th Circuit, there was no dispute that courts of appeals have the ability to review the BIA’s analysis of pure questions of law. But in deciding the appeals of Guerrero-Lasprilla and Ovalles, the 5th Circuit held that the Limited Review Provision prohibited it and all other circuit courts from reviewing the BIA’s application of a legal standard to undisputed facts.
Today, the Supreme Court overturned the 5th Circuit, holding that appellate courts can review the BIA’s application of the law to undisputed facts. The court sent the cases back for the lower courts to determine whether the BIA erred in finding that the time limit on their individual motions to reopen should have been equitably tolled, or extended.
So the bottom line is that the Court ruled that plaintiffs can’t dispute questions of fact, they can appeal how the immigration authorities applied the law to those facts.
It’s sort of a tiny win given it gives immigrants more authority to challenge deportations but also gives the U.S. government the power to legally remove immigrants in most cases.
The Supreme Court has already handed down several major rulings this month.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration can enforce the “remain in Mexico” policy.
Before that, the High Court ruled 5-4 in favor of tossing a lawsuit filed against a Texas border agent for shooting and killing a Mexican teenager.
In the other immigration case, the Court ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing the Trump administration to enforce its “public charge” immigration rule, which allows them to deny green cards to immigrants who would be dependent on government welfare for extended periods.
The Court also ruled 9-0 that there must actually be racism in racism cases.