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Immigration Law

Supreme Court, 5-3, Rules Against Immigrant - Luna Torres v. Lynch

Luna Torres v. Lynch, May 19, 2016 - KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, GINSBURG, and ALITO, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS and BREYER, JJ., joined.

Opinion: "We have little doubt that “Congress could have drafted [§1101(a)(43)] with more precision than it did.” Graham County Soil & Water Conservation Dist. v. United States ex rel. Wilson, 545 U. S. 409, 422 (2005). But the same could be said of many (even most) statutes; as to that feature, §1101(a)(43) can join a well-populated club. And we have long been mindful of that fact when interpreting laws. Rather than expecting (let alone demanding) perfection in drafting, we have routinely construed statutes to have a particular meaning even as we acknowledged that Congress could have expressed itself more clearly. ... We accordingly affirm the judgment of the Second Circuit.  [764 F. 3d 152 (2014)]"

Dissent: "N. Y. Penal Law Ann. §150.10 (West 2010) ... punishes anyone who (1) “intentionally” (2) “damages,” by (3) “starting a fire or causing an explosion,” (4) “a building or motor vehicle.” By contrast, the federal arson statute, 18 U. S. C. §844(i), applies when someone (1) “maliciously” (2) “damages or destroys,” (3) “by means of fire or an explosive,” (4) “any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property” (5) “used in interstate or foreign commerce.” There is one more element in the federal offense than in the state offense — (5), the interstate or foreign commerce element. Luna thus was not convicted of an offense “described in” the federal statute. Case closed. Not for the majority. It dubs the fifth element “jurisdictional,” then relies on contextual clues to read it out of the statute altogether. As a result of the majority’s sleuthing, Luna — a long-time legal permanent resident — is foreclosed from even appealing to the sound discretion of the Attorney General to obtain relief from removal. Because precedent and the text and structure of the INA require the opposite result, I respectfully dissent."