Sunday, December 3, 2023

First Woman Supreme Court Justice, Author of Major Immigration Decision, Dies

The first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor died earlier this week.  Justice O'Connor wrote the decision in Landon v. Plasencia, a major immigration decision that had some dramatic impacts on removal procedures.  The case addressed the Due Process rights of a lawful permanent resident returning to the United States after a weekend trip to Mexico.  I wrote a chapter about the case for the book Immigration Stories by David A. Martin and Peter H. Schuck (2005).

In an opinion written by Justice O'Connor, the Court in Landon v. Plasencia held that the question whether Maria Plasencia, a lawful permanent resident who was accused of being inadmissible because she was seeking to smuggle noncitizens into the country upon her return from a weekend trip to Mexico, was entitled to a hearing that is consistent with due process.   Previously, relying on the plenary power doctrine, courts had denied any rights to persons -- even returning lawful permanent residents -- seeking to enter the country.  Prompted by Landon v. Plasencia, Congress in 1996 amended the immigration statute to provide that returning lawful permanent residents seeking to enter the country are generally not subject to the same procedures and inadmissibility grounds as first-time entrants.  A beneficial dialogue between the Supreme Court in Landon v. Plasencia and Congress thus secured greater rights for lawful permanent residents.


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