Some good news came out of the nation’s highest court yesterday. In a ruling that once again smacked down the bizarre decisions coming out of the Ninth Circuit, the Supremes ruled that illegal aliens with criminal records could be held without bail until ICE is able to pick them up if they are subject to deportation. This is one of the first cases directly relating to sanctuary city policies where the lower courts have attempted to stifle immigration policies under the Trump administration, only to be corrected by the Supreme Court. (Washington Times)
Illegal immigrants with serious criminal records can be held without bail while awaiting deportation even if ICE didn’t immediately pick them up when they were released from prison or jail, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The 5-4 decision marked another rejection for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the liberal panel that covers the country’s West Coast, and that has tested a number of legal theories on immigration law…
The case turned on a phrase in the law that says the no-bail determination applies to someone picked up by ICE “when the alien is released” from prison or jail.
From the beginning, the decision handed down in the Ninth Circuit appeared irrational. They focused on a phrase in the applicable federal law saying that such a “no-bail determination” could apply to someone “when the alien is released.” The Ninth Circuit interpreted that to mean it only applied on the day that they were released and the provision disappeared at midnight. Given the logistics involved in getting ICE over to a jail to pick someone up on the same day – particularly in places where sanctuary city laws prevent police from notifying ICE – that can prove impossible. The Supreme Court’s interpretation is simply common sense.
As an interesting side note, there were two opinions issued by the majority. Thomas and Gorsuch wrote separately that the lower courts never should have agreed to hear the case in the first place. The reason for that was the fact that Congress had already precluded jurisdiction over detention decisions. But since the case had already been thrown into their laps, they agreed with Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority decision.
The 5-4 vote split precisely the way you would expect. The four liberal justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) all voted in favor of the sanctuary city policies, while the four conservative justices plus John Roberts sided with ICE. While Roberts has been playing footsie with the liberals lately, seemingly looking to take over Kennedy’s role as the swing vote, this one went down in a more predictable fashion. It underscores yet again the importance of not only winning elections but getting the President’s court nominations approved.
Now if we can only get them to rule on the question of Justice Department grant money for sanctuary cities in a more orderly fashion. Sure… that one might be a pipe dream, but we’re at least allowed to hope, right?