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Immigration Law

Cert. Pet. Challenges Jordan v. DeGeorge, CIMT: Daye v. Garland

Kalvis Golde, SCOTUSblog, Nov. 4, 2022

"In its 1951 decision in Jordan v. De George, the Supreme Court held that the term “crime involving moral turpitude” in federal immigration law is not unconstitutionally vague. The term lacks any statutory definition, however, and courts around the country have since struggled to apply it evenly and frequently criticized its existence. This week, we highlight cert petitions that ask the court to consider, among other things, whether to overrule De George and abandon crimes involving moral turpitude to the dustbin of history.

Everton Daye received a visa to move from Jamaica to the United States in 2008. He became a lawful permanent resident after marrying a U.S. citizen the following year. When Daye was convicted under Virginia law on three charges of bringing marijuana into the state, immigration officials brought removal proceedings against him under the federal law that lists a “crime of moral turpitude” as grounds for deportation. The agency ordered Daye be sent back to Jamaica.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld Daye’s deportation order. Emphasizing its longstanding position that “evil intent is inherent in the illegal distribution of drugs,” the agency had determined that Daye’s marijuana convictions were for crimes involving moral turpitude. The 11th Circuit concluded that it lacked any authority to overturn the agency’s decision as long as De George remains on the books.

In Daye v. Garland, Daye asks the justices to overrule De George. That decision involved someone who defrauded the government of taxes, Daye argues, but courts are hopelessly divided over which illegal acts other than fraud – such as marijuana possession – are crimes involving moral turpitude. The result, Daye contends, is that the fate of “tens of thousands” of people facing deportation rests on the varying moral compasses of individual judges."

Question Presented: "Whether the court should overturn Jordan v. De George and hold that the phrase “crime involving moral turpitude” is unconstitutionally vague as it is used in 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)."