Lexis Nexis - Case Brief

Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Law School Case Brief

INS v. St. Cyr - 533 U.S. 289, 121 S. Ct. 2271 (2001)

Rule:

The inquiry into whether a statute operates retroactively demands a commonsense, functional judgment about whether the new provision attaches new legal consequences to events completed before its enactment. A statute has retroactive effect when it takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under existing laws, or creates a new obligation, imposes a new duty, or attaches a new disability, in respect to transactions or considerations already past. The judgment whether a particular statute acts retroactively should be informed and guided by familiar considerations of fair notice, reasonable reliance, and settled expectations.

Facts:

Before the effective dates of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 ("IIRIRA"), § 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was interpreted to give the Attorney General broad discretion to waive deportation of resident aliens. Section 401 of AEDPA identified a broad set of offenses for which convictions would preclude such relief and by IIRIRA, which repealed § 212(c) and replaced it with a new section excluded from the class anyone "convicted of an aggravated felony." A large class of aliens depended on § 212(c) relief. Respondent St. Cyr, a lawful permanent United States resident, pleaded guilty to a criminal charge that made him deportable. He would have been eligible for a waiver of deportation under the immigration law in effect when he was convicted, but his removal proceedings were commenced after AEDPA's and IIRIRA's effective dates. St. Cyr filed a petition for habeas corpus in federal district court. The Attorney General claimed that AEDPA and IIRIRA withdrew his authority to grant St. Cyr a waiver. The district court accepted St. Cyr's habeas corpus application and agreed that the new restrictions did not apply to removal proceedings brought against an alien who pleaded guilty to a deportable crime before enactment of the new laws. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit affirmed.

Issue:

Were AEDPA and IIRIRA applicable to St. Cyr's case?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of the United States concluded that the district courts retained habeas jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.S. § 2241 because interpreting the cited amendments to entirely preclude review raised substantial constitutional questions under the Suspension Clause. Moreover, the cited amendments did not contain a clear and unambiguous statement of constitutional intent to bar jurisdiction pursuant to § 2241, nor did they provide another judicial forum to decide pure questions of law. Relief pursuant to 8 U.S.C.S. § 1182(c) remained available for St. Cyr, who was convicted pursuant to a plea agreement and who was eligible for § 1182(c) relief at the time of his plea, because nothing in the IIRIRA unmistakably indicated that the repeal of § 1182(c) applied retroactively.

Access the full text case Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.
Be Sure You're Prepared for Class