Gorsuch Casts Deciding Vote on Immigration Case - It May Surprise You

United States Supreme Court

Supreme court – and Neil Gorsuch – deliver blow to Trump's deportation law

The decision is a loss for President Donald Trump's administration which, like President Barack Obama's administration before it, had defended the provision at issue before the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch, in one of his first major breaks with fellow conservatives, joined the court's left-leaning four justices in upending that part of immigration law.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that part of a federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants convicted of crimes is too vague.

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, noting that the term "aggravated felony" under the Immigration and Nationality Act was too vague.

The appeals court relied on a decision that same year by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that a similar provision in a federal criminal sentencing law was overly broad.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the 20015 decision "tells us how to resolve this case". And it comes amid an ongoing focus on immigration by Trump.

"James Garcia Dimaya, a native and citizen of the Philippines, was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident in 1992".

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In 2007 and 2009, he pleaded no contest to charges of residential burglary in California, and an immigration judge determined that Dimaya should be deported because of his two state court convictions.

The federal government appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the U.S. Congress had reasonably identified a category of crimes that carry the risk of violence, and suggested that the justices should defer to the immigration authorities. It initially heard arguments in January 2017 when the nine-seat court was one justice short, but decided in June after Gorsuch brought the court to full strength to have the case re-argued. In doing so, Gorsuch was continuing the jurisprudence of Justice Antonin Scalia, who also sided with liberals when it came to the vagueness of statutes used to convict criminal defendants.

The case, Sessions v. Dimaya, had originated during the Obama administration but had been closely watched to see if the justices would reveal how they will consider the Trump administration's overall push to both limit immigration and increase deportations.

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