The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, struck down a ruling from the historically liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that threw out a decade’s old precedent on illegal immigration law.
The law makes it illegal for someone to encourage someone to illegally immigrate to the United States or to stay illegally.
The law has been defended by the administration of President Donald Trump and the decision to kick it back to the Ninth Circuit came even from the liberal Supreme Court justices.
The decision was penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who many consider to be the most liberal justice on the court.
“The 9th Circuit struck down the law as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech because it is overly broad, criminalizing a wide array of ordinary conversations and advice. The 9th Circuit found that the law could criminalize even simple speech, such as a grandmother suggesting to her relative whose visa had expired to stay in the country,” Reuters reported.
The president’s administration argued that the law did not criminalize speech that is protected but rather to stop people from promoting or profiting from illegal immigration.
The original case was centered on an immigration consultant in San Jose, California, a U.S. citizen named Evelyn Sineneng-Smith that advised Filipinos who made their livings as home health care workers.
“No extraordinary circumstances justified the panel’s takeover of the appeal. Sineneng-Smith herself had raised a vagueness argument and First Amendment arguments homing in on her own conduct, not that of others,” Justice Ginsburg said in her ruling.
“Electing not to address the party-presented controversy, the panel projected that §1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) might cover a wide swath of protected speech, including political advocacy, legal advice, even a grandmother’s plea to her alien grandchild to remain in the United States.
“Nevermind that Sineneng-Smith’s counsel had presented a contrary theory of the case in the District Court, and that this Court has repeatedly warned that “invalidation for [First Amendment] overbreadth is ‘strong medicine’ that is not to be ‘casually employed,’” she said.
Justice Clarence Thomas penned a concurrent opinion as well as joining in the court’s decision as written by Justice Ginsburg.
“Although I have previously joined the Court in applying this doctrine, I have since developed doubts about its origins and application. It appears that the overbreadth doctrine lacks any basis in the Constitution’s text, violates the usual standard for facial challenges, and contravenes traditional standing principles. I would therefore consider revisiting this doctrine in an appropriate case,” he said.
“This Court’s overbreadth jurisprudence is untethered from the text and history of the First Amendment,” he said.
“The overbreadth doctrine appears to be the handiwork of judges, based on the misguided ‘notion that some constitutional rights demand preferential treatment,’” he said.
It is par for the course for the Ninth Circuit to overreach in favor of what is tantamount to creating laws for its liberal bias.
But it is not often that the Supreme Court smacks them back in a unanimous decision, particularly one penned by its most liberal justice.
It is another major victory for President Trump at the Supreme Court and one that is likely to make Democrats furious.