December 6, 2006
Supreme Court Interprets Immigration Laws
In an 8 to 1 decision, the Court addressed one of the cases discussed below, which presented the question of whether a person was not subject to mandatory deportation where federal law requires deporting those who commit "felonies," and the noncitizen commitd a crime that under state law is a felony, but under federal law is a misdemeanor. The court held that a noncitizen can't be deported for having committed a drug crime that, while a felony under state law, is only a misdemeanor under federal law. There's an article about the opinion here, and the opinion itself Lopez v. Gonzales, No. 05-547 is here. Justice Thomas dissented.
The language at issue, a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides that “[a]ny alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is deportable.” 8 U. S. C. §1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). More about it later today once I've read it.
More Laws on the Way
he Washington Post reports here that the 3 day "weeks" and long and frequent recesses that became the norm in recent years are gone. Hopefully the quality of the work will be better (I don't mean the politics, I mean the actual quality: see posts below about CAFA and BAPCA and the social costs and uncertainties poor drafting have created.)
December 5, 2006
Mass v. EPA & Standing
There's an interesting piece here analyzing standing under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act, the issue involved in the EPA v. Mass case, discussed below and argued earlier this month in the Supreme Court.
Interesting Piece on Judge Posner
There's an interesting opinion piece on balkanization on Judge Posner here. "A very substantial number of lawyers believe that Chief Judge Posner routinely does not pay sufficient attention to the facts, or leaves out crucial facts, in order to reach desired conclusions….Chief Judge Posner feels less constrained by precedent, history, and the proper limits on appellate judging than, in the Council’s view, he should…”]. It's pertinent here, though it doesn't address statutory interpretation as such, because it implicates the role of the judge as finder, or maker, of legal meaning. E.g., do judges objectively and archeologically uncover meaning, or do they pragmatically decide what the statute "ought" to mean and back it out from there?
December 4, 2006
Maryland Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage Statute
There's an interesting piece here describing today's hour-long oral argument before the Maryland Supreme Court challenging that state's 1973 statute prohibiting same-sex marriages. The district court had held the statute unconstitutional.
Criminal Statutes: A Success?
CBS has a report about a study on how many people are in the prison or jail system. Believe it or not, it's 1 out of 32. That's amazing...ly sad. You can read the article here. Here's one excerpt: "Racial disparities among prisoners persist. In the 25-29 age group, 8.1 percent — about one in every 13 — of black men are incarcerated, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men. And it's not much different among women. By the end of 2005, black women were more than twice as likely as Hispanics and over three times as white women to be in prison."
I live in the Deep South -- Macon, Georgia -- after having grown up in Tucson, attended law school in Chicago, and practiced law in Houston and Austin, Texas, and I have come to believe that education is the key to a lot of these problems. But I'm no expert.
December 3, 2006
Little expected of Lame Duck Session. There's a preview of what's likely not to happen during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress available free at the Washington Post, here.
Interesting View of Hate-Crime Statutes. There's an op-ed piece on them here in the LA Times.