BREAKING: SUPREMES GRANT CERT., ALLOW TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN TO GO INTO EFFECT — WITH IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS — CASE DOCKETED FOR OCT. — MIGHT BE “MOOT” BY THEN!

Here’s the Court’s complete “per curiam” (unsigned) opinion with separate concurring and dissenting opinion by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, & Alito:

SCTravelBan16-1436_l6hc

The Supreme Court handed the Trump Administration at least a partial victory on the controversial “Travel Ban 2.0” which had been enjoined by the Ninth and Fourth U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Court: 1) granted the petitions for certiorari filed by the Solicitor General in behalf of the Trump Administration and scheduled the case for Oral Argument at the beginning of the October 2017 Term; and 2) granted in part the Solicitor General’s request to stay the lower courts’ injunctions pending review.

However, in partially lifting the injunctions, the Court left in effect a significant  part of those injunctions: the Travel Ban may not be applied to a) “foreign nationals who have a [pre-existing] credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” and b) “an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The dissent would have stayed all parts of the lower courts’ injunctions. Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch, criticized the majority for having cerated a non-statutory category of individuals who can “credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” He fears that the meaning of these exceptions will itself become a fertile ground of additional litigation before the Court can resolve the merits of these cases.

Additionally, the Court noted that since the bar on internal review of procedures relating to visa issuance was lifted on June 14, 2017, and the Government has represented that the review will be completed within 90 days, the case with respect to visa issuance to non-refugees might well be moot before the Court can get to the merits. The court instructs the parties to brief that issue.

“Quickie Analysis”

The Trump Administration can legitimately view this as a much-needed (from their standpoint) victory. All nine Justices appear to be prepared to rule that the Executive has virtually unbridled authority to bar the admission, at least temporarily, of foreign nationals with no connections to the United States.

It also appears that Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito would find that the Executive’s essentially unreviewable authority extends even to individuals who have a connection with the United States.

However, those challenging the Travel Ban have some reason to hope because at least six Justices seem to remain open to the possibility of engaging in some type of meaningful judicial review of Executive decisions regarding foreign nationals abroad who have established some connections to the U.S.

There may also be mootness issues with respect to some or all of the injunction with respect to refugee admissions. The new fiscal year for refugee admissions begins on October 1, 2017, before the Court will have heard argument in these cases. Before the beginning of the fiscal year, the Trump Administration must under the Refugee Act of 1980  “consult” with Congress on the number and allocation of refugee admissions for fiscal year 2018.  “Statutory consultation” was one of the things that the Trump Administration neglected to do before purporting to suspend refugee admissions and dramatically slash the number of fiscal year 2017 refugee admissions established by the Obama Administration after undertaking the required statutory consultation.

The lack of any reasonable rationale by the Trump Administration for reversing the  prior statutory determination made by the the Obama Administration after consultation with Congress was cited by the Ninth Circuit in upholding the original injunction. But, that issue should also be moot before the Court decides theses cases on the merits.

PWS

06-26-17

 

BREAKING: SUPREMES BODY SLAM DOJ IN NATZ CASE — MISREPRESENTATION MUST BE “MATERIAL” — Maslenjak v. United States — Total Justices Voting For DOJ Position = 0 (ZERO)!

Here’s the Court’s Syllabus (NOT part of the decision);

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

MASLENJAK v. UNITED STATES CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

No. 16–309. Argued April 26, 2017—Decided June 22, 2017

Petitioner Divna Maslenjak is an ethnic Serb who resided in Bosnia during the 1990’s, when a civil war divided the new country. In 1998, she and her family sought refugee status in the United States. In- terviewed under oath, Maslenjak explained that the family feared persecution from both sides of the national rift: Muslims would mis- treat them because of their ethnicity, and Serbs would abuse them because Maslenjak’s husband had evaded service in the Bosnian Serb Army by absconding to Serbia. Persuaded of the Maslenjaks’ plight, American officials granted them refugee status. Years later, Maslenjak applied for U. S. citizenship. In the application process, she swore that she had never given false information to a government of- ficial while applying for an immigration benefit or lied to an official to gain entry into the United States. She was naturalized as a U. S. cit- izen. But it soon emerged that her professions of honesty were false: Maslenjak had known all along that her husband spent the war years not secreted in Serbia, but serving as an officer in the Bosnian Serb Army.

The Government charged Maslenjak with knowingly “procur[ing], contrary to law, [her] naturalization,” in violation of 18 U. S. C. §1425(a). According to the Government’s theory, Maslenjak violated §1425(a) because, in the course of procuring her naturalization, she broke another law: 18 U. S. C. §1015(a), which prohibits knowingly making a false statement under oath in a naturalization proceeding. The District Court instructed the jury that, to secure a conviction un- der §1425(a), the Government need not prove that Maslenjak’s false statements were material to, or influenced, the decision to approve her citizenship application. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the convic- tion, holding that if Maslenjak made false statements violating

2 MASLENJAK v. UNITED STATES Syllabus

§1015(a) and procured naturalization, then she also violated §1425(a).

Held:
1. The text of §1425(a) makes clear that, to secure a conviction, the

Government must establish that the defendant’s illegal act played a role in her acquisition of citizenship. To “procure . . . naturalization” means to obtain it. And the adverbial phrase “contrary to law” speci- fies how a person must procure naturalization so as to run afoul of the statute: illegally. Thus, someone “procure[s], contrary to law, naturalization” when she obtains citizenship illegally. As ordinary usage demonstrates, the most natural understanding of that phrase is that the illegal act must have somehow contributed to the obtain- ing of citizenship. To get citizenship unlawfully is to get it through an unlawful means—and that is just to say that an illegality played some role in its acquisition.

The Government’s contrary view—that §1425(a) requires only a vi- olation in the course of procuring naturalization—falters on the way language naturally works. Suppose that an applicant for citizenship fills out the paperwork in a government office with a knife tucked away in her handbag. She has violated the law against possessing a weapon in a federal building, and she has done so in the course of procuring citizenship, but nobody would say she has “procure[d]” her citizenship “contrary to law.” That is because the violation of law and the acquisition of citizenship in that example are merely coincidental: The one has no causal relation to the other. Although the Govern- ment attempts to define such examples out of the statute, that effort falls short for multiple reasons. Most important, the Government’s attempted carve-out does nothing to alter the linguistic understand- ing that gives force to the examples the Government would exclude. Under ordinary rules of language usage, §1425(a) demands a causal or means-end connection between a legal violation and naturaliza- tion.

The broader statutory context reinforces the point, because the Government’s reading would create a profound mismatch between the requirements for naturalization and those for denaturalization: Some legal violations that do not justify denying citizenship would nonetheless justify revoking it later. For example, lies told out of “embarrassment, fear, or a desire for privacy” (rather than “for the purpose of obtaining [immigration] benefits”) are not generally dis- qualifying under the statutory requirement of “good moral charac- ter.” Kungys v. United States, 485 U. S. 759, 780; 8 U. S. C. §1101(f)(6). But under the Government’s reading of §1425(a), any lie told in the naturalization process would provide a basis for rescinding citizenship. The Government could thus take away on one day what

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Syllabus

it was required to give the day before. And by so unmooring the rev- ocation of citizenship from its award, the Government opens the door to a world of disquieting consequences—which this Court would need far stronger textual support to believe Congress intended. The stat- ute Congress passed, most naturally read, strips a person of citizenship not when she committed any illegal act during the naturaliza- tion process, but only when that act played some role in her naturalization. Pp. 4–9.

2. When the underlying illegality alleged in a §1425(a) prosecution is a false statement to government officials, a jury must decide whether the false statement so altered the naturalization process as to have influenced an award of citizenship. Because the entire naturalization process is set up to provide little room for subjective pref- erences or personal whims, that inquiry is properly framed in objec- tive terms: To decide whether a defendant acquired citizenship by means of a lie, a jury must evaluate how knowledge of the real facts would have affected a reasonable government official properly applying naturalization law.

If the facts the defendant misrepresented are themselves legally disqualifying for citizenship, the jury can make quick work of that inquiry. In such a case, the defendant’s lie must have played a role in her naturalization. But that is not the only time a jury can find that a defendant’s lies had the requisite bearing on a naturalization decision, because lies can also throw investigators off a trail leading to disqualifying facts. When relying on such an investigation-based theory, the Government must make a two-part showing. Initially, the Government must prove that the misrepresented fact was suffi- ciently relevant to a naturalization criterion that it would have prompted reasonable officials, “seeking only evidence concerning citizenship qualifications,” to undertake further investigation. Kungys, 485 U. S., at 774, n. 9. If that much is true, the inquiry turns to the prospect that such an investigation would have borne disqualifying fruit. The Government need not show definitively that its investiga- tion would have unearthed a disqualifying fact. It need only estab- lish that the investigation “would predictably have disclosed” some legal disqualification. Id., at 774. If that is so, the defendant’s mis- representation contributed to the citizenship award in the way §1425(a) requires. This demanding but still practicable causal standard reflects the real-world attributes of cases premised on what an unhindered investigation would have found.

When the Government can make its two-part showing, the defend- ant may overcome it by establishing that she was qualified for citizenship (even though she misrepresented facts that suggested the opposite). Thus, whatever the Government shows with respect to a

4

MASLENJAK v. UNITED STATES Syllabus

thwarted investigation, qualification for citizenship is a complete defense to a prosecution under §1425(a). Pp. 10–15.

3. Measured against this analysis, the jury instructions in this case were in error. The jury needed to find more than an unlawful false statement. However, it was not asked to—and so did not—make any of the necessary determinations. The Government’s assertion that any instructional error was harmless is left for resolution on remand. Pp. 15–16.

821 F. 3d 675, vacated and remanded.

KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. GORSUCH, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which THOMAS, J., joined. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

************************************************

Interestingly, Justice Gorsuch, in his first immigration-related decision, wrote a separate concurring opinion agreeing with the majority that a misrepresentation must be “material” but indicating that he would not have gone on to attempt to articulate a test for “materiality.”

Doubt that the Government’s max-enforcement effort in the Federal Courts is out of touch with reality and the law? Try this: With a supposedly conservative majority Supreme Court, the Gov has lost two recent cases this one and Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions(http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/05/31/led-by-justice-thomas-unanimous-supremes-reject-usgs-attempt-to-deport-mexican-man-for-consensual-sex-with-a-minor-strict-interpretation-carries-the-day/) by a total vote of 17-0. Yes, that’s right, 17-0! Not one Justice has sided with any of the nonsense that the Solicitor General has advanced on behalf of Government overreach on immigration enforcement. Justice Thomas even wrote the unanimous opinion in Esquivel (Justice Gorsuch sat that one out).

And, remember that these were positions developed and defended by the DOJ under the Obama Administration.

PWS

06-22-17

RELAX, Cabinet Members! — Supremes Say No Monetary Damages For Unconstitutional Acts! — Ziglar v. Abbasi

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1358_6khn.pdf

The full opinion is at the above link.  Here’s the Court’s “Detailed Syllabus,” which, of course, is NOT part of the opinion:

Syllabus

ZIGLAR v. ABBASI ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE SECOND CIRCUIT

No. 15–1358. Argued January 18, 2017—Decided June 19, 2017*

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Federal Government ordered hundreds of illegal aliens to be taken into custody and held pending a determination whether a particular detainee had connections to terrorism. Respondents, six men of Arab or South Asian descent, were detained for periods of three to six months in a federal facility in Brooklyn. After their release, they were removed from the United States. They then filed this putative class action against petitioners, two groups of federal officials. The first group consisted of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, for- mer Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller, and former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar (Executive Officials). The second group consisted of the facili- ty’s warden and assistant warden Dennis Hasty and James Sherman (Wardens). Respondents sought damages for constitutional viola- tions under the implied cause of action theory adopted in Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388, alleging that peti- tioners detained them in harsh pretrial conditions for a punitive pur- pose, in violation of the Fifth Amendment; that petitioners did so be- cause of their actual or apparent race, religion, or national origin, in violation of the Fifth Amendment; that the Wardens subjected them to punitive strip searches, in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments; and that the Wardens knowingly allowed the guards to abuse them, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Respondents also brought a claim under 42 U. S. C. §1985(3), which forbids certain

——————

*Together with No. 15–1359, Ashcroft, Former Attorney General, et al. v. Abbasi et al., and No. 15–1363, Hasty et al. v. Abbasi et al., also on certiorari to the same court.

2

ZIGLAR v. ABBASI Syllabus

conspiracies to violate equal protection rights. The District Court dismissed the claims against the Executive Officials but allowed the claims against the Wardens to go forward. The Second Circuit af- firmed in most respects as to the Wardens but reversed as to the Ex- ecutive Officials, reinstating respondents’ claims.

Held: The judgment is reversed in part and vacated and remanded in part.

789 F. 3d 218, reversed in part and vacated and remanded in part. JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to

Part IV–B, concluding:
1. The limited reach of the Bivens action informs the decision

whether an implied damages remedy should be recognized here. Pp. 6–14.

(a) In 42 U. S. C. §1983, Congress provided a specific damages remedy for plaintiffs whose constitutional rights were violated by state officials, but Congress provided no corresponding remedy for constitutional violations by agents of the Federal Government. In 1971, and against this background, this Court recognized in Bivens an implied damages action to compensate persons injured by federal officers who violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. In the following decade, the Court allowed Bivens-type remedies twice more, in a Fifth Amend- ment gender-discrimination case, Davis v. Passman, 442 U. S. 228, and in an Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause case, Carlson v. Green, 446 U. S. 14. These are the only cases in which the Court has approved of an implied damages remedy un- der the Constitution itself. Pp. 6–7.

(b) Bivens, Davis, and Carlson were decided at a time when the prevailing law assumed that a proper judicial function was to “pro- vide such remedies as are necessary to make effective” a statute’s purpose. J. I. Case Co. v. Borak, 377 U. S. 426, 433. The Court has since adopted a far more cautious course, clarifying that, when decid- ing whether to recognize an implied cause of action, the “determina- tive” question is one of statutory intent. Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U. S. 275, 286. If a statute does not evince Congress’ intent “to create the private right of action asserted,” Touche Ross & Co. v. Redington, 442 U. S. 560, 568, no such action will be created through judicial mandate. Similar caution must be exercised with respect to damages actions implied to enforce the Constitution itself. Bivens is well- settled law in its own context, but expanding the Bivens remedy is now considered a “disfavored” judicial activity. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U. S. 662, 675.

When a party seeks to assert an implied cause of action under the Constitution, separation-of-powers principles should be central to the

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Syllabus

analysis. The question is whether Congress or the courts should de- cide to authorize a damages suit. Bush v. Lucas, 462 U. S. 367, 380. Most often it will be Congress, for Bivens will not be extended to a new context if there are “ ‘special factors counselling hesitation in the absence of affirmative action by Congress.’ ” Carlson, supra, at 18. If there are sound reasons to think Congress might doubt the efficacy or necessity of a damages remedy as part of the system for enforcing the law and correcting a wrong, courts must refrain from creating that kind of remedy. An alternative remedial structure may also limit the Judiciary’s power to infer a new Bivens cause of action. Pp. 8–14.

2. Considering the relevant special factors here, a Bivens-type rem- edy should not be extended to the claims challenging the confinement conditions imposed on respondents pursuant to the formal policy adopted by the Executive Officials in the wake of the September 11 attacks. These “detention policy claims” include the allegations that petitioners violated respondents’ due process and equal protection rights by holding them in restrictive conditions of confinement, and the allegations that the Wardens violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by subjecting respondents to frequent strip searches. The detention policy claims do not include the guard-abuse claim against Warden Hasty. Pp. 14–23.

(a) The proper test for determining whether a claim arises in a new Bivens context is as follows. If the case is different in a mean- ingful way from previous Bivens cases decided by this Court, then the context is new. Meaningful differences may include, e.g., the rank of the officers involved; the constitutional right at issue; the extent of judicial guidance for the official conduct; the risk of disruptive intru- sion by the Judiciary into the functioning of other branches; or the presence of potential special factors not considered in previous Bivens cases. Respondents’ detention policy claims bear little resemblance to the three Bivens claims the Court has approved in previous cases. The Second Circuit thus should have held that this was a new Bivens context and then performed a special factors analysis before allowing this damages suit to proceed. Pp. 15–17.

(b)The special factors here indicate that Congress, not the courts, should decide whether a damages action should be allowed.

With regard to the Executive Officials, a Bivens action is not “a proper vehicle for altering an entity’s policy,” Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U. S. 61, 74, and is not designed to hold officers responsible for acts of their subordinates, see Iqbal, supra, at 676. Even an action confined to the Executive Officers’ own discrete con- duct would call into question the formulation and implementation of a high-level executive policy, and the burdens of that litigation could prevent officials from properly discharging their duties, see Cheney v.

4

ZIGLAR v. ABBASI Syllabus

United States Dist. Court for D. C., 542 U. S. 367, 382. The litigation process might also implicate the discussion and deliberations that led to the formation of the particular policy, requiring courts to interfere with sensitive Executive Branch functions. See Clinton v. Jones, 520 U. S. 681, 701.

Other special factors counsel against extending Bivens to cover the detention policy claims against any of the petitioners. Because those claims challenge major elements of the Government’s response to the September 11 attacks, they necessarily require an inquiry into na- tional-security issues. National-security policy, however, is the pre- rogative of Congress and the President, and courts are “reluctant to intrude upon” that authority absent congressional authorization. Department of Navy v. Egan, 484 U. S. 518, 530. Thus, Congress’ failure to provide a damages remedy might be more than mere over- sight, and its silence might be more than “inadvertent.” Schweiker v. Chilicky, 487 U. S. 412, 423. That silence is also relevant and telling here, where Congress has had nearly 16 years to extend “the kind of remedies [sought by] respondents,” id., at 426, but has not done so. Respondents also may have had available “ ‘other alternative forms of judicial relief,’ ” Minneci v. Pollard, 565 U. S. 118, 124, including in- junctions and habeas petitions.

The proper balance in situations like this, between deterring con- stitutional violations and freeing high officials to make the lawful de- cisions necessary to protect the Nation in times of great peril, is one for the Congress to undertake, not the Judiciary. The Second Circuit thus erred in allowing respondents’ detention policy claims to proceed under Bivens. Pp. 17–23.

3. The Second Circuit also erred in allowing the prisoner abuse claim against Warden Hasty to go forward without conducting the required special factors analysis. Respondents’ prisoner abuse alle- gations against Warden Hasty state a plausible ground to find a con- stitutional violation should a Bivens remedy be implied. But the first question is whether the claim arises in a new Bivens context. This claim has significant parallels to Carlson, which extended Bivens to cover a failure to provide medical care to a prisoner, but this claim nevertheless seeks to extend Carlson to a new context. The constitu- tional right is different here: Carlson was predicated on the Eighth Amendment while this claim was predicated on the Fifth. The judi- cial guidance available to this warden with respect to his supervisory duties was less developed. There might have been alternative reme- dies available. And Congress did not provide a standalone damages remedy against federal jailers when it enacted the Prison Litigation Reform Act some 15 years after Carlson. Given this Court’s ex- pressed caution about extending the Bivens remedy, this context

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Syllabus

must be regarded as a new one. Pp. 23–26.
4. Petitioners are entitled to qualified immunity with respect to re-

spondents’ claims under 42 U. S. C. §1985(3). Pp. 26–32.
(a) Assuming that respondents’ allegations are true and well pleaded, the question is whether a reasonable officer in petitioners’ position would have known the alleged conduct was an unlawful con- spiracy. The qualified-immunity inquiry turns on the “objective legal reasonableness” of the official’s acts, Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U. S. 800, 819, “assessed in light of the legal rules that were ‘clearly estab- lished’ at the time [the action] was taken,” Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U. S. 635, 639. If it would have been clear to a reasonable officer that the alleged conduct “was unlawful in the situation he confront- ed,” Saucier v. Katz, 533 U. S. 194, 202, the defendant officer is not entitled to qualified immunity. But if a reasonable officer might not have known that the conduct was unlawful, then the officer is enti-

tled to qualified immunity. Pp. 27–29.
(b) Here, reasonable officials in petitioners’ positions would not

have known with sufficient certainty that §1985(3) prohibited their joint consultations and the resulting policies. There are two reasons. First, the conspiracy is alleged to have been among officers in the same Department of the Federal Government. And there is no clear- ly established law on the issue whether agents of the same executive department are distinct enough to “conspire” with one another within the meaning of 42 U. S. C. §1985(3). Second, open discussion among federal officers should be encouraged to help those officials reach con- sensus on department policies, so there is a reasonable argument that §1985(3) liability should not extend to cases like this one. As these considerations indicate, the question whether federal officials can be said to “conspire” in these kinds of situations is sufficiently open that the officials in this suit would not have known that §1985(3) applied to their discussions and actions. It follows that rea- sonable officers in petitioners’ positions would not have known with any certainty that the alleged agreements were forbidden by that statute. Pp. 29–32.

KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, III, IV–A, and V, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part IV–B, in which ROB- ERTS, C. J., and ALITO, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concur- ring in part and concurring in the judgment. BREYER, J., filed a dis- senting opinion, in which GINSBURG, J., joined. SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, and GORSUCH, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases.

**********************************************

It was an odd opinion in that only six Justices participated, so the majority was 4-2. The majority opinion was Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito. But, the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas and Alito also wrote or joined in separate concurring opinions. Justice Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion in which Justice Ginsburg joined.

Justices Sotomayer, Kagan, and Gorsuch sat this one out. Justice Sotomayor previously was a Judge on the Second Circuit at the time this case was before that court. Justice Kagan worked on the case as Solicitor General. And, Justice Gorsuch arrived too late to participate in the argument and deliberations.

However, I doubt that there would be a difference in result with all nine Justices voting. Justice Gorsuch almost certainly would side with the majority opinion’s “strict construction” of liability. Even assuming that Justices Sotomayor and Kagan would side with the dissenters, there would still be a 5-4 majority for the approach set forth in Justice Kennedy’s opinion.

Reading between the lines here, I think that the whole Bivens concept is “on the rocks” before this Court.  The current, more conservative, Court clearly wishes Bivens were never decided and wants to limit it essentially to its facts. With a GOP President, any future appointments are likely to turn the tide even more solidly for overruling or strictly limiting Bivens.

I must admit to having mixed feelings. As a Government Senior Executive I was subject to several (totally unfounded) Bivens suits. I was greatly relieved and totally delighted when the doctrines of absolute and implied immunity got me dismissed in my private capacity. I also took out a standard Government approved “Bivens liability insurance policy” just in case.

On the other hand, I’d have to say that the specter of being involved in Bivens litigation was something that I and almost all of the other senior government officials whom I advised and worked with, up to and including Cabinet officers, had Bivens in the back of our “collective minds” in determining actions and policies. So, there was at least some “deterrent value” in the Bivens case. Moreover, it was an effective tool for pointing out the necessity for line enforcement officers, whom I often trained or advised, to keep their actions within clearly established constitutional boundries.

The Court suggests that it would be best for Congress to address this subject. But, Bivens has been around for many years and Congress has never addressed it. So, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Interestingly, among those high-ranking officials who were relieved of any liability in this case were former Attorney General John Ashcroft and then FBI Director Robert Mueller.

PWS

06-19-17

 

 

NEW PRECEDENT: BIA On “Receipt Of Stolen Property” –Matter of ALDAY-DOMINGUEZ, 27 I&N Dec. 48 (BIA 2017) — Still Getting It Wrong After All These Years — Read My “Dissenting Opinion!”

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/970806/download

Here’s the BIA headnote:

“The aggravated felony receipt of stolen property provision in section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(G) (2012), does not require that unlawfully received property be obtained by means of common law theft or larceny.”

PANEL: BIA Appellate Immigration Judges Pauley, Guendelsberger, and Kendall Clark

OPINION BY: Judge Pauley

*****************************************************************

I respectfully dissent.

The Immigration Judge got it right. Under the “plain meaning” of the statute, the respondent is not an aggravated felon. Therefore, the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

Nearly 17 years ago, when I was Chairman of the BIA, I joined the dissenting opinion of Judge Lory D. Rosenberg in a related case, Matter of Bhata, 22 I&N Dec. 1381 (BIA 2000) https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2014/07/25/3437.pdf which is cited by this panel in Matter of Alday-Dominguez. Indeed, the panel relies on Bhata to support it’s incorrect decision.

However, as Judge Rosenberg pointed out cogently in her dissent:

Accordingly, the modifying parenthetical phrase helps only to elucidate the main clause of the provision. Although the language “theft offense” may require our interpretation, the parenthetical must be read according to its own terms in the context of that subsection of the Act. The phrase “(including receipt of stolen property)” after the word “offense” limits the crimes that are included within the phrase “theft offense.” United States v. Monjaras-Castaneda, supra, at 329 (citing John E. Warriner & Francis Griffith, English Grammar and Composition (Heritage ed., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1977)). Specifically, the parenthetical provides that a “theft offense” encompasses the particular offense of receiving stolen property (which, by implication and judicial interpretation, is not a theft).

Matter of Bhata, supra, at 1396 (Rosenberg, AIJ dissenting).

Clearly, as pointed out by Judge Rosenberg, under a “plain reading” of the statutory language, “receipt of stolen property”  is a “subgroup” of a theft offense. Consequently, the unlawfully received property must have been obtained by “theft.” The California statute includes things other than property obtained by theft, specifically objects obtained by “extortion.”

Therefore, under the “categorical approach,” the California statute is broader than the aggravated felony offense described in section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act. Accordingly, the DHS fails to establish that the respondent is removable under that section. Hence, the Immigration Judge correctly terminated removal proceedings, and the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

The majority is just as wrong today as it was in Bhata. Remarkably, a member of this panel, Judge Guendelsberger, along with Judge Gus Villageliu and Judge Neil Miller, joined our dissent in Bhata. Sadly, over the course of his unjustified exile, followed by re-education, rehabilitation, and reappointment to his Appellate Judgeship, my friend and colleague’s views must have changed since the days when he stood up with the rest of us for respondents’ legal rights against the majority of our colleagues who all too often bought the Government’s arguments, even when they were less than persuasive.

Just this week, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court reinforced the “plain meaning” analysis in applying the categorical approach to an aggravated felony removal provision involving “sexual abuse of a minor.” Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, ___ U.S. ___ (2017). Yet, the panel seems “tone-deaf” to the very clear message from Justice Thomas and his colleagues about the impropriety of manipulating clear statutory language to achieve a finding of removal.

In conclusion, the respondent has not been convicted an of an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act by virtue of his conviction for receiving stolen property under the California Penal Code. Consequently, the Immigration Judge reached the correct result, and the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

Therefore, I respectfully dissent from the panel’s decision to sustain the DHS appeal.

Paul Wickham Schmidt

Former BIA Chairman, Appellate Immigration Judge, & United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

Entered: June 2, 2017

Led By Justice Thomas, Unanimous Supremes Reject USG’s Attempt To Deport Mexican Man For Consensual Sex With A Minor — “Strict Interpretation” Carries The Day!

Here is then full text of the opinion in Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-54_5i26.pdf

Here’s a key excerpt from Justice Thomas’s opinion:

“Relying on a different dictionary (and “sparse” legislative history), the Government suggests an alternative “‘everyday understanding’” of “sexual abuse of a minor.” Brief for Respondent 16–17 (citing Black’s Law Dictionary 1375 (6th ed. 1990)). Around the time sexual abuse of a minor was added to the INA’s list of aggravated felonies, that dictionary defined “[s]exual abuse” as “[i]llegal sex acts performed against a minor by a parent, guardian, relative, or acquaintance,” and defined “[m]inor” as “[a]n infant or person who is under the age of legal competence,” which in “most states” was “18.” Id., at 997, 1375. “‘Sex- ual abuse of a minor,’” the Government accordingly contends, “most naturally connotes conduct that (1) is illegal, (2) involves sexual activity, and (3) is directed at a person younger than 18 years old.” Brief for Respondent 17.

We are not persuaded that the generic federal offense corresponds to the Government’s definition. First, the Government’s proposed definition is flatly inconsistent with the definition of sexual abuse contained in the very dictionary on which it relies; the Government’s proposed definition does not require that the act be performed “by a parent, guardian, relative, or acquaintance.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1375 (6th ed. 1990) (emphasis added). In any event, as we explain below, offenses predicated on a special relationship of trust between the victim and offender are not at issue here and frequently have a different age requirement than the general age of consent. Second, in the context of statutory rape, the prepositional phrase “of a minor” naturally refers not to the age of legal competence (when a person is legally capable of agreeing to a contract, for example), but to the age of consent (when a person is legally capable of agreeing to sexual intercourse).

Third, the Government’s definition turns the categorical approach on its head by defining the generic federal offense of sexual abuse of a minor as whatever is illegal under the particular law of the State where the defendant was convicted. Under the Government’s preferred ap- proach, there is no “generic” definition at all. See Taylor, 495 U. S., at 591 (requiring “a clear indication that . . . Congress intended to abandon its general approach of using uniform categorical definitions to identify predicate offenses”); id., at 592 (“We think that ‘burglary’ in §924(e) must have some uniform definition independent of the labels employed by the various States’ criminal codes”).

C

The structure of the INA, a related federal statute, and evidence from state criminal codes confirm that, for a statutory rape offense to qualify as sexual abuse of a minor under the INA based solely on the age of the participants, the victim must be younger than 16.”

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Notwithstanding a supposedly “conservative” Court, going back several Administrations the USG has been losing on a surprisingly regular basis in its attempts to take the most extreme and inclusive interpretations of various already very harsh deportation provisions. And, “strict constructionists” like Justice Thomas and the late Justice Scalia have sometimes had just as much problem with the Government’s overreach as have supposedly more liberal or “middle of the road” justices. That’s why I’m not convinced that Justice Gorsuch (who did not participate in this case) will be as much of a “Government ringer” as some believe, at least in immigration matters.

Despite a number of notable setbacks at the Court, DHS, DOJ, and the BIA all seem to be rather “tone deaf” to the Court’s message. The Executive Branch continues to take the most extreme anti-immigrant positions even where, as in this case, it requires ignoring the “unambiguous” statutory language.

Given the “maximo enforcement” posture of the Trump Administration, there is little reason to believe that the Executive Branch will “get” the Court’s message about more reasonable interpretations of deportation statutes. Hopefully, the Court will continue to stand up against such abuses of Executive authority.

PWS

05-31-17