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Immigration Law

Supreme Court, 5-4: Patel v. Garland

Patel v. Garland

Majority: "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."  [971 F. 3d 1258, affirmed.  JUSTICE BARRETT delivered the opinion of the Court.]

Dissent: "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. ... The majority concludes that courts are powerless to correct an agency decision holding an individual ineligible for relief from removal based on a factual error, no matter how egregious the error might be. The majority’s interpretation has the further consequence of denying any chance to correct agency errors in processing green-card applications outside the removal context. Even the government cannot bring itself to endorse the majority’s arresting conclusions. For good reason. Those conclusions are at war with all the evidence before us. They read language out of the statute and collapse the law’s clear two-step framework. They disregard the lessons of neighboring provisions and even ignore the statute’s very title. They make no sense of the statute’s history. Altogether, the majority’s novel expansion of a narrow statutory exception winds up swallowing the law’s general rule guaranteeing individuals the chance to seek judicial review to correct obvious bureaucratic missteps. It is a conclusion that turns an agency once accountable to the rule of law into an authority unto itself. Perhaps some would welcome a world like that. But it is hardly the world Congress ordained." - JUSTICE GORSUCH, with whom JUSTICE BREYER, JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, and JUSTICE KAGAN join, dissenting.