Monday, May 16, 2022

Breaking News: Supreme Court Limits Judicial Review of Removal Decisions

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The Supreme Court today limited judicial review of removal decisions in Patel v. Garland.  Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the opinion for the majority.  SCOTUSBlog collects materials on the case here.

As described in the syllabus to the slip opinion, the majority held that "Federal courts lack jurisdiction to review facts found as part of discretionary-relief proceedings under §1255 and the other provisions enumerated in §1252(a)(2)(B)(i)."

Justice Barrett delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh joined.  Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.

Justice Barrett began the majority opinion as follows:"

"Congress has comprehensively detailed the rules by which noncitizens may enter and live in the United States. When noncitizens violate those rules, Congress has provided procedures for their removal. At the same time, there is room for mercy: Congress has given the Attorney General power to grant relief from removal in certain circumstances. Federal courts have a very limited role to play in this process. With an exception for legal and constitutional questions, Congress has barred judicial review of the Attorney General’s decisions denying discretionary relief from removal. We must decide how far this bar extends -- specifically, whether it precludes judicial review of factual findings that underlie a denial of relief. It does. joined.

Justice Gorsuch began the dissent as follows:

"It is no secret that when processing applications, licenses, and permits the government sometimes makes mistakes. Often, they are small ones—a misspelled name, a misplaced application. But sometimes a bureaucratic mistake can have life-changing consequences. Our case is such a case. An immigrant to this country applied for legal residency. The government rejected his application. Allegedly, the government did so based on a glaring factual error. In circumstances like that, our law has long permitted individuals to petition a court to consider the question and correct any mistake. Not anymore. Today, the Court holds that a federal bureaucracy can make an obvious factual error, one that will result in an individual’s removal from this country, and nothing can be done about it. No court may even hear the case. It is a bold claim promising dire consequences for countless lawful immigrants. And it is such an unlikely assertion of raw administrative power that not even the agency that allegedly erred, nor any other arm of the Executive Branch, endorses it. Today’s majority acts on its own to shield the government from the embarrassment of having to correct even its most obvious errors. Respectfully, I dissent."

Recaps of the opinion will be posted when available.

UPDATE (May 17): Aline Barros on Voice of America reports on the Patel v. Garland decision.


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