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December 5, 2006

SCOTUS limits deportable offenses

As reported here at SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court in Lopez v. Gonzales "ruled, by an 8-1 vote on Tuesday, that conviction of a drug crime that is a felony under state law but only a misdemeanor under federal law is not kind the kind of offense that triggers potential deporation."   Justice David Souter wrote the opinion for the Court, with only Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting.

I doubt this ruling will have a dramatic impact on criminal law or immigration law, unless the opinion has lots of notable dicta.  I'll comment more when I get a chance to review the opinion.

UPDATE:  The Court's work in Lopez can now be found at this link.  Nothing earth-shattering jumped out from a quick read of the opinions, both of which have an intricate focus on seemingly small issues of statutory interpretation.  Perhaps what is most interesting is that Justice Souter's opinion was able to secure all the Justices votes save for Justice Thomas.

December 5, 2006 at 10:17 AM | Permalink


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I'm an attorney in a federal defender office located about 50 miles from the border. This case has tremendous implications for us and for our clients, many of whom have been receiving much higher sentences because their prior simple drug possession convictions were deemed aggravated felonies under the reentry guideline.

Posted by: Shari Allison | Dec 5, 2006 4:44:09 PM

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